Under the Kyoto Protocol, the US was expected to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6% below the 1990 levels. Instead the world’s largest emitter’s emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide increased by 14% between 1990 and 2010, according a draft report of the US government.
The US refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol after it was agreed to by the global community under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and since then it has steadfastly refused to accede to the protocol. Instead, Washington is demanding a new regime that brings parity to responsibilities on both emerging economies and developed world to reduce emissions.
The report was put out for discussion by US’ Environment Protection Agency, and is to be submitted to the UN Convention as part of its obligations.
The report notes: “Between 1990 and 2010, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased from 4,742.1 tera grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (Tg CO2 Eq) to 5,406.8 Tg CO2 Eq – a 14.0% total increase over the 21-year period. From 2009 to 2010, these emissions increased by 192.2 Tg CO2 Eq. (3.7%).”
It says, “The fundamental factors influencing this trend include (1) a generally growing domestic economy over the last 20 years, and (2) an overall growth in emissions from electricity generation and transportation activities.”
By delaying pledging commitments to reduce its emissions, the US has occupied greater amount of the finite atmospheric resource that countries like India and China had pointed out on several occasions.
The US has refused to acknowledge responsibility for historic emissions even though it has been scientifically proved that emissions once spewed remain in the atmosphere for long and in case of carbon dioxide for more than 100 years. In climate parlance, it is called the problem of existing ‘stock’ as against the future ‘flows’ of emissions.
India has demanded that developed countries such as the US should reduce their emissions substantially to vacate the limited atmospheric space for the developing world to also grow economically as they transit to greener pathways.
The release of the US data is likely to raise fresh concerns about its international climate position against the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.
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