U.S. GHG Reduction Bill (Waxman-Markey) is a Shadow of Kyoto

By April 2, 2009 February 28th, 2013 Emissions

Kyoto Required the U.S. to reduce GHGs by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. Since the Clinton Administration did not ratify Kyoto, the task has become harder, not easier. Climate is changing faster, the impacts are greater, the warming in the pipeline is greater and future impacts will be greater and last much, much longer than understood during the Clinton Administration. (See NOAA’s Solomon here)

The first reading of the new climate legislation requires U.S. reductions of greenhouse gases (equivalent to CO2) of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. GHG emissions in 2005 were 7130 gtons (gigatons = billion tons). this is the same target as Kyoto had for the U.S. of 7% below 1990 levels (5,718 gtons). What kind of progress is this? Much of the rest of the world – Most of the rest of the world – is seeking reductions that are five to seven times greater than Kyoto – not the same as…

The U.S. is far, far behind. Our 2007 emissions in the were 7,125 gtons.

China?  No… CO2 hardly matters from year to year. It has a half life of 300 years.  Half of the CO2 emitted by the US has been emitted since 1960, so virtually all of it is still in the air. We have emitted 30% of all of the CO2 emitted by every country on Earth since the beginning of the industrial revolution.  China is second at 8%, and it will be many decades before they catch up to the US.

Of the remaining half of CO2 in the atmosphere after 300 years, not 100 or 200 years like we thought in the 20th Century. Those numbers were relatively correct back then, but warming decreases the capacity of our CO2 sinks to suck up CO2. Scientists are finding that the sinks are decreasing in efficiency faster than expected, so the half life of CO2 has increased, as well as its 3/4 life and its whole life. Half of the CO2 that remains in our atmosphere longer than 300 years will stay there for 1,000 years, the other half will stay there 20,000 to 30,000 years.

CO2 emissions – http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/index.html

CO2 half life – Archer, Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2005.