Posted by: Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797



“If the U.S. acts, the rest of the world will follow.”  This is a common trope asserted by eco-enthusiasts bent on passing cap-and-trade.   No international agreement is possible, they say, unless the U.S. first assumes the burden of mandatory carbon reductions.  We now hear that the U.S. can gain “leverage” in international negotiations in Copenhagen later this year if EPA makes a finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare under the Clean Air Act.  Presumably, this means such action will coax China, the world’s leading emitter of CO2, and India, the world’s third largest CO2 emitter, into accepting binding emissions cuts.  “Unless we show that we are capable and willing to regulate and limit our emissions, we are not going to get an international agreement,” said David Bookbinder, the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel.  Similarly, Annie Petsonk, international counsel with the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “To the extent that the endangerment finding pushes that process domestically, that's important for our negotiating partners to know.”


FACT: Developing countries, particularly India and China, have stated unequivocally that, regardless of U.S. action, they will never impose carbon straitjackets on their economies.  "If the question is whether India will take on binding emission reduction commitments, the answer is no,” a member of the Indian delegation to the recently concluded UN climate conference in Bonn told the Washington Post.  “It is morally wrong for us to agree to reduce when 40 percent of Indians do not have access to electricity.”  As an aside, the Indian delegate added, “Of course, everybody wants to go solar, but costs are very, very high.”  As the Post pointed out, more than 60 percent of India's power is generated from coal.  “As India rapidly climbs the list of global polluters, analysts say coal will continue to fuel the economic demands of the country's 1.1 billion people for two decades.”   But India “has repeatedly said that it will not compromise on growth by committing to emission reduction goals set by developed nations, which it deems bigger culprits when it comes to pollution.”  Rajenda Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said India is “very unlikely” to change its official position.


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