For Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Cap and Trade, Anyone?

Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 1.5 percent in 2006. The total reduction in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions was 1.8 percent.

By comparison, carbon dioxide emissions by participants in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (Europe’s version of “cap and trade,” an emissions-regulation system now under consideration by the U.S. Congress) increased by 0.3 percent in 2006.

The EU’s cap and trade program didn’t perform as well as its environmentalist proponents hoped it would. The European Union screwed up its cap and trade system’s first trading period by handing out too many emissions permits. As a result, emitters had scant financial incentive to make reductions. This was not predictable, as no one familiar with the history of the Twentieth Century could have expected a large intergovernmental bureaucracy to make an economic planning error.

For a succinct report on the 2006 decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, read the U.S. Department of Energy’s press release here. For a more detailed look at the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions picture, including prior years, go here. For a fuller picture on how well the European Union and its member states are meeting their Kyoto targets, I recommend the European Environment Agency publication “Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends and Projections in Europe 2007,” available in English here.

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