More hot air


Global warming is allegedly coming faster than even the most alarmist campaigners expected. They have once again had a field day in bashing America, for its insistence that big emerging polluters should come on board the bus to mitigate climate change. This is a classical example of Alexis de Tocqueville's law: once the dynamics of an insurgency have been unleashed it is unlikely to be settled by compromise even if the reigning powers want to — instead they spoil it with escalating demands.

In any case, there is probably no need for all this fuss about short–term emission cuts. Just allow the market to do the job.

There is now evidence that the US approach, with prizes for the invention of low carbon technology, is actually working. Recently the Bush Administration announced that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 1.8 percent with all greenhouse emissions down 1.5 percent from 2005 to 2006 even though the economy grew by 2.9 percent.

This reduction was accomplished through prizes and greater use of lower carbon energy sources. We know that most EU countries are failing to achieve their Kyoto commitments and yet even those who do manage to meet their Kyoto-set targets tend to do so for reasons other than climate change mitigation politics such as the breakdown of socialist economies.

The EU hasn't yet released figures for 2006. But from 2000 to 2005, the U.S outperformed Western Europe. Carbon emissions were up 3.8 percent in the so-called EU-15 during those years, versus 2.5 percent in the U.S.

The funny thing is: the same is true for Al Gore. It was during his time as Vice–President in the early 1990s that U.S. greenhouse emissions grew faster than Europe's. Bush, on the other hand, has managed to turn this around.