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Climate Summit: UN Exempts World's #1 Polluter from Stricter CO2 Enforcement

Climate Summit: UN Exempts World's #1 Polluter from Stricter CO2 Enforcement

The European Union and United States government-funded Global Carbon Project (GCP) released their latest Atlas that tracks annual CO2 emissions by 196 countries in cooperation with Sunday’s People’s Climate March and President Obama’s keynote speech at the United Nations Global Climate Summit Tuesday. The GCP report warns that man-made global warming is accelerating and names China as the chief culprit. However, GCP blames consumption in Europe and the United States for high levels of CO2 emissions and supports continued UN exemptions from enforcement for China.

GCP complains that a record 36 billion tonnes of carbon from all human sources were emitted in 2013 due to the global economic recovery. They point out that China is not only the world’s largest emitter of CO2 with a 29% share but also now exceeds the emissions on a per capita basis by the 28 countries in the European Union.

The GCP warns that 66% of the CO2 budget “scientifically established” to limit the man-made global warming to a maximum rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) established at the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro is being expended faster than expected.

But according to former high-ranking Obama Administration official Dr. Steven Koonin, who is a computational physicist, such climate science and the implications of global warming are not “settled,” and such “misguided’ claims have been used to stifle debate on the matter. He adds, “We often hear that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.”

The United Nations’ setting of mandated CO2 levels has an interesting background. Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit gave each of the 196 UN attendees an equal vote on the future of CO2 enforcement, the negotiating position for the large number of emerging countries was favored over the smaller number of developed nations. The emerging nation caucus used their voting majority to successfully negotiate their own CO2 exemptions as a competitive advantage. The final Earth Summit protocol set per-capita CO2 restrictions that economically hammered the EU and U.S.

When George W. Bush was elected U.S. president in 2000, he was asked by former U.S. Senator and current Defense Secretary Hagel what his administration’s position was on climate warming. Bush replied that he took climate change “very seriously” but opposed the proposed Kyoto global warming treaty, because “it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would cause serious harm to the US economy”.

The United States in 1992 was the world’s biggest CO2 emitter and still is the largest on a per capita basis. But since 1992, China has grown from 3% to 29% of world’s annual CO2 emissions. China now produces twice the U.S. amount, triple the EU amount, and over four times India’s CO2 emissions.

At the U.N. climate change committee meeting in Warsaw last November, China and India were virtually exempted from having to make annual CO2 reduction “commitments.” The two fastest-growing CO2 emitters will be allowed to continue making loosely defined “contributions” toward reducing CO2 emissions for the next two years.

The reason China is the world’s largest and fastest growing CO2 emitter is that their production and consumption of coal as an energy source has tripled since 1990. China now relies on coal power for approximately 70-80% of its energy needs. According to the International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre, China operates 620 of the 2,300 coal-fired power stations worldwide. China approved 15 new coal mines to support expanded coal-fired electrical generation in July.

Carbon Project researcher Professor Corinne Le Quere from the UK’s University of East Anglia tried to justify China’s CO2 exemption by blaming consumption in Europe and the United States. “In China, about 20% of their emissions are for producing clothes, furniture, even solar panels that are shipped to Europe and America.” He added, “If you look at the emissions in Europe with that perspective, they would be 30% higher if we accounted for those goods that are produced elsewhere.”

This type of bizarre rationalizing of blame for the rise in CO2 emissions on Europe and the United States, no matter what the facts are, explains why manufacturing jobs and wages are booming in China and India and shriveling in Europe and the United States.

President Obama told the UN at the climate summit meeting Tuesday that “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” Mr. Obama promoted the executive action he announced this year that mandates cutting pollution from the nation’s power plants by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. He emphasized that the United States would also meet its previous pledge to reduce the nation’s overall carbon emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

Although the climate summit focused on China as the world’s largest CO2 emitter, Chinese President Xi Jinping chose not to attend. He sent Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, who presented his own figures to make the case that China was “doing its part.”

Chriss Street suggests that if you are interested in this energy issue, please read: Russia, China Begin Joint Construction of Massive Energy Pipeline.

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