We begin this carbon craziness roundup from around the world, from Ontario to California to North Dakota, with a detour to a recent glimmer of sanity in Germany, where the government’s environment minister last week unveiled a national Climate Action Plan with no firm targets.
Green activists are up in arms because, you see, at the Paris Climate Summit last year, Germany had announced wildly improbable commitments to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 and up to 95 per cent by 2050.
Any government that adopts such targets is short a few megatonnes of common sense, so Germany’s apparent decision to drop a plan to achieve the unachievable suggests the return of a degree of rationality and appreciation of reality, especially since it seems unlikely Germany can meet the 2020 target, let alone 2050.
In California, no such lucidity exists. Governor Jerry Brown last week signed legislation to cut carbon emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. Since California’s current rate of emissions is about 440 megatonnes and total emissions in 1990 were about 440 megatonnes, Brown apparently believes he can eliminate 176 megatonnes in little more than a decade.
One big hope, apparently, is that California’s cap-and-trade carbon system will drive the price of carbon up, reducing fossil fuel use. State officials like to claim that cap and trade and other policies have already reduced per capita carbon emissions since 2008, a claim that tends to fall apart when viewed against the background of the industry-killing 2008 economic crisis and the fact that 1.7-million people left California since 2000, forcing population growth to an all-time low.
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