Business As Usual for U.S. Emissions

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A leaked report says that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will grow almost as much in this decade as they did in the last one.

The United States Climate Action Report, obtained by the New York Times, was supposed to be released in January 2006, under the terms of the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. It’s speculated that the leak came from a government employee who is frustrated by the long delay.

The Times reports:

“According to the new report, the administration’s climate policy will result in emissions growing 11 percent in 2012 from 2002. In the previous decade, emissions grew at a rate of 11.6 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.“The report also contains sections describing growing risks to water supplies, coasts and ecosystems around the United States from the anticipated temperature and precipitation changes driven by the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases.”

Bush administration officials said the report shows that the government is meeting its objective of having emissions grow more slowly than the economy. That’s the same as the “emission intensity” objective that Canada’s Conservative government has said it will introduce this year.

The best comment in the Times article comes from David D. Doniger, director of climate policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“If you set the hurdle one inch above the ground you can’t fail to clear it.”

That’s exactly what the “emissions intensity” concept involves. It’s an objective with no meaningful content — yet another example of government greenwash.