Washington D.C. - Just in time for next week’s G8 summit in Japan, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released a new report examining the progress of each of the G8 countries toward addressing climate change, a main focus of this year’s meeting. The ranking lists energy efficiency progress made in each of the G8 nations. There are very few surprises - especially the fact that the U.S. once again trails the pack.
Environmental scorecards are a rather new publicity tool that we are seeing more and more these days. Organizations such as Greenpeace or ClimateCounts.org are using scorecards to shed light on what most of us are struggling to understand - the impact of our current actions on our planet. The upcoming G8 meeting is likely to provide lots of new data, ideas, discussions, proposals and arguments on energy policies. The WWF today provided a detailed summary of the current state on energy efficiency in the G8 nations and, to a lesser degree "+5" countries.
The G8 ranking is separated in three portions - the lowest scoring countries, medium-scoring and top-scoring nations.
The U.S was ranked as "the worst of all G8 countries." The WWF described the U.S. as being the "largest emitter with the highest per capita emissions and an increasing trend in total emissions." The organization recognized that "substantial [energy efficiency] activities emerge at the state level, little substantive federal measures are in place to curb emissions in the short term."
Slightly better than the U.S. was Canada with "very high per capita emissions, a steadily increasing trend in total emissions (recently revised upwards), far away from its Kyoto target and inadequate mid to long-term greenhouse gas targets." Russia came in at #6 and "ranks a bit better due to declining absolute emissions in the early 1990s and a large share of less CO2-intensive natural gas." However, the WWF said that Russia’s emissions have increased steadily since 1999 "and there is hardly any policy in place to curb emissions."
On the other end of the scale are the UK, France and Germany.
According to the WWF "Germany’s emissions declined 1990 to 2000 partly due to economic downturn in Eastern Germany but also due to national measures. Since then, emissions are stable and a gap to meet the Kyoto target is expected if no immediate measures are put in place or external credits are purchased." The organizations criticized that Germany is "politically less ambitious for electricity production from fossil fuels, facing a high share of coal and lignite and announced investment plans that
would lock Germany into a high level of carbon intensiveness for the next 40 years."
Emission rates (per capita and per GDP) in France (#2) are described as "relatively low for an industrialized country, partially due to a high share of nuclear energy (which WWF does not consider as viable policy). Emissions have been roughly stable since 1990."
The UK (#1) has made the most progress, the WWF said, with emission’s already below the Kyoto target -
"largely due to a transition from coal to gas in the 1990s." the organization noted that the fall in emissions has "levelled off since 2000 and the share of coal has again increased and emissions are expected to rise further."
Overall, the WWF claims that the energy efficiency potential is not tapped. "Although large potential exists to save energy and money at the same time, all G8 countries have insufficient policies
in place to overcome barriers to energy efficiency," the organization said.
"Countries’ programs are incomplete focusing on only some aspects such as appliances or buildings. Efficiency improvements in transport are usually not sufficiently encouraged. Japan scores well on dynamic efficiency standards for appliances and cars but leaves energy performance of buildings and in the power sector uncovered. Canada, USA and Russia rank last on energy efficiency with broadly insufficient or lacking policies," the report states.
Also, I don't think much of their actions have inflated prices for oil. The weakening dollar, credit crunch cause by the sub-prime mortgage fallout, and increased global consumption has impacted the price of fuel far more significantly than any environmental legislation.
Lets face it, the populations of India and China are now saying they want to drive their cheap to repair gas guzzling jeeps and so the scales of economy are taking a bite at wasteful nations like the US. (Yes, wasteful - why else does the US maintain some of the lowest CAFE standards globally? Why else does such a small percentage of the global population consume such a disproportionate amount of global resources?)
As to the higher prices in the UK being a factor, there are others too. Compare per capita rates of vehicle ownership, public transportation usage, and travel distances and you will see other trends. Why is it the US, with 48 contiguous states, relies on individual vehicular and air travel? Where are the developed mass transit systems and the railway systems that a land-based nation like the US could develop for efficient travel?
Of course, lets get back into economies of scale - China is building coal plants at a phenomenal rate. If I recall, they are near or have exceeded what took the US its entire span to develop. Do you really believe that CO2 levels are not influenced? Do you really believe this has no impact on our environment?
Consider gas pressures then. As the proportion of CO2 increases in our atmosphere, the pressure of that component will force more CO2 into the oceans. With these increased levels, the CO2 reacts with the water molecules and produces H2CO3, carbonic acid. Ocean acidity increases.
From chemistry lets move onto biology. Many oceanic entities can only survive in specific ranges of pH. As acidity increases, environmental stresses increase and organisms die. These include organisms at the bottom of the food chain, which then can threaten food sources which we harvest. The carbonic acid can also effect certain hard-shelled organisms, softening the shells and leaving them vulnerable to predators.
Of course, lets fall into the classic myth that it is environment versus economy and quality of life. Ignore the boom-collapse cycle of wind and solar industries in the US as we let the Production Tax Credit lapse, while other nations see a strong and healthy economy rise out of converting to producing these devices (and improving their national security by promoting energy independence). Ignore changing climate issues that are occurring.
After all, as long as you can throw your trash into your neighbor's (or my) yard to preserve your air-conditions home with pristine manicured green lawn (who's run off leads to algae blooms, eventual oxygen depletion, and finally fish/aquatic life die offs and starvation of other people and yourself), why should you care? Be like the corporate raiders who buy out a company, fire everyone, and gut it for your personal gain - because that is the world we want. Self-centered and self-absorbed. Keep believing that you are man, you are not part of the environment, and that the meat- and gasoline-fairies use magic to bring what you need to market. Screw your neighbor, screw your children - think only of yourself and your quality of life.
This is why I hate reading stories about environmentalism and issues of sustainability - it reveals just how arrogant, ignorant, and egotistical people really are.
So enjoy the future you made as economies of scale overwhelm you. China and India want their turn at consuming resources at the same rate as the US - so for those in the US get ready to pony up. Our entitlement is about to end.
I am not interested, I come here for tech news!