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The bigger problem will very soon be neither the US nor Europe but China. If anybody of you has ever taken a walk in Beijing, you will know. And Germany, especially the car makers, need to turn to hybrid engines quickly.

"How Unpolite: State Official Claims Superiority of U.S. Climate Policy"

And, he had the gall to actually use facts to make his point -- not merely consensus or opinions (or consensus opinions). Now, that's real arrogance!

Heh. I've run across this quote more than once today, and it seems appropriate here:

“Don’t confuse me with the facts, I have my mind made up.”

-- Unknown

Ignorance is bliss...

That said, just try and use this kind of information at the dinner table with a bunch of Euros who are convinced that the Toxic Texan is polluting their pristine earth. They'll look at you as if you are from another planet. I know, I'm from the Lone Star and frequently make interplanetary forays over to the Eurozone.

Though on a recent trip to NL where I was being berated for US environmental policy, I offered the rejoinder that my hosts and hostesses lived in a country that was essentially the world's biggest land fill project. They were not amused.

This is phenomenal.

Congrats once again to Davids Medienkritik for the great work in highlighting this.

Thanks, guys!

An important fact is missing here -- the US is still very inefficiently
using primary energy ressources. Compared to Germany, the US needs 50%
more energy in relation to economic size and 100% more energy in relation
to population size. This spoiling of energetict ressources correlates
directly to CO2 emissions... [1][2]

[1] Primary energy consumption (2004): eia.doe.gov
[2] Population and GNP: cia.gov Factbook

Freejack,
The two variables you chose do not tell the whole story. You don't suppose that the vast difference in polulation density has anything to do with it? In a nationa like the USA, which has 300 million people spread across a wide area, energy demand for transportation will be higher per capita than in a densely populated country like Germany.

Nevermind that US emmissions standards have long been tougher than in Germany (where the Cats are a recent phenomenon and leaded gas only recently went away).

Also, since the US produces 40% of the world's industrial output while only producing 25% of the world's pollution, it should come as no surprise that we are doing something right.

Hector,

I don't think the population density has that much impact, as many people
live in densly populated urban areas. Also transportation accounts only
for less than a third of primary energy demand, so it just can't explain the
big difference in overall energetic efficiency.

I agree basically on your statement about emission standards.
Unleaded fuel and catalytic exhaust treatment exists for about 20 years
in Germany -- not exactly what I would call "recent", but this movement
started about 10 years later than in the US.

CO2 is not so much about pollution, however -- it's about efficiency.
And here I won't compare the US to the entire world, but rather to other
higly industrialized first-world countries. And there the US has still a high
potential for improvements.

POW!

i love this website.

Double agent makes secret document public: Bush administration behind conspiracy to control the climate.

A double agent has infiltrated the government’s computer system and found a side door in the security software through which he gained access and created a spylink to a secret government document. The double agent, known from a previous tip as Fred H., has leaked this “side door spylink” exclusively to Davids Medienkritik. This document is a German translation that he traced down to the US Embassy in Germany, which suggests that there may also be German collaborators in the international conspiracy. And according to the document, there are even collaborators in the UN! Although there have actually been a few reports about the US climate control activities in the German media, something or someone in Germany has prevented the reports from becoming widespread. Although the Bush administration began activities shortly after taking office over six years ago, to this day most Germans know nothing about America’s climate control actions.
So here it is, especially for our German speaking friends, the secret activities of the US to influence the course of the climate:

side door spylink to secret government conspiracy document :
http://amerikadienst.usembassy.de/us-botschaft-cgi/ad-detailad.cgi?lfdnr=1868

OK, this document isn't really secret, but the way the US greenhouse gas reduction programs are mostly ignored and even denied in the German press, it might as well be.
(The original English version can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050518-4.html )

By the way, I have also found a lonely exception that proves the rule:
http://www.welt.de/data/2006/11/19/1116089.html
But of course it was written by US ambassador Timken. Like I said, the exception...

freejack23,

Please don't misunderstand this question, I'm not trying to be obnoxious.

Are numbers for Germany available only in the aggregate or can you get discrete values for West and East? The reason I ask is that my understanding of industry in what was East Germany has basically collapsed, therefore factoring in the East may be skewing the numbers for Germany as a whole.

This speech is the way I like it, neither get stuck in the bs approach nor confuse it with the problem itself.

If the big business media chose not to pick up this story it must be transported to the audience somehow else.

Blog entries are one thing. There are so many facts and numbers in this, this would be worth of a few minutes videoclip presentation.

Are there already any German language blogs covering this? Here is the Kurt Volker speech in German.

@ freejack23, just in case you missed it, Volker said: “No question: The United States is the world's largest emitter of CO2. Everybody in the room knows this.” I have heard and read that in the German media literally hundreds of times. I have seen an accurate description of US climate policy in the German media only once.

Good to see that the US is taking steps in the right direction. It is not reported a lot over here. They did report on California and other areas and towns wanting to adopt Kyoto style reductions and measures.

Nonetheless I have to throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the celebrations. Volker is for the most part talking about relative changes and brings up numbers for fuel use that are not easily compared to other countries, I don't have the time right now to dig into it. Volker is very proud on the improvements in GHG intensity, i.e. greenhouse emissions per unit of GDP, and rightly so.

However, and this is a big however, the US GHG intensity is probably much worse than Germany's and other western EU countries to begin with. I do not have GHG numbers (hence the probably), sorry, but I do have numbers for Energy use (Kg oil equivalent) per $1,000 (PPP) GDP (less is better) up to and including 2003. A few mixed examples:

US ........ 222 (down from 272 in 1990)
Germany ... 164 (down from 213 in 1990)
China ..... 220 (down from 485 in 1990)
France .... 171 (down from 181 in 1990)
UK ........ 141 (down from 169 in 1990)
Poland .... 217 (down from 343 in 1990)

Keep in mind that this does only roughly translates into GHG intensity, as the energy may come from fossil fuels, atomic power or renewable energies. I haven't got a clue, how much of the variations between countries needs to be attributed to differences of how the GDP is created (production, agriculture, services).

@blue,

Very interesting statistics, I saw similar numbers from the Economist last year and often wondered what other countries would look like. Thanks for the link!

Your point that the US is worse that "most" other Western Countries is in itself debatable. In fairness, one should be comparing the US to it’s neighbor, Canada or another similar country like Australia. Some examples

Country YR 2003
Australia: 208
Canada: 291
New Zealand: 208
Russia: 519
South Africa: 258
USA : 222

This measurement of statistics I find to be the most fair for the basis of an international carbon treaty. It would not harm growth or punish countries with immigration. It makes me wonder why the Kyoto Accord was even agreed upon the way it was… I mean, I don’t think that Europeans are stupid by any imagination. However, the only conclusion that would justify the current data to serve as the basis for the Kyoto Accord is an attempt to weaken the United States, championed by our so called European allies – Germany haven taken a leading role...

I speculate that Germany was well aware that they would benefit from the windfall of the Kyoto Accord’s measurement facility ( using 1990 as a basis – they had just integrated dirty East Germany) and furthermore, they don’t have immigration per se. Feeble growth combined with a desire to hobble the US, made Jürgen Trittin one of Kyoto’s biggest supporters…

Why the German Press doesn’t go after countries that singed the accord and who are blatant violators of the agreement (like Canada), well, we all know the answer to that one…

@ James
It was "western EU countries" in my post, but you do have a point about other "western countries" in general.

I don't know whether or not Germany lobbied for having 1990 as a reference year. By the looks of it West Germany at least kept its emissions about constant (that's a far cry from the aimed for reductions). I found some links that address East and West Germany separately (sorry, all German)

http://www.bmu.de/pressearchiv/13_legislaturperiode/pm/119.php
http://www.volker-quaschning.de/artikel/Klima2006/index.html
http://www.diw.de/deutsch/produkte/publikationen/wochenberichte/docs/96-04-2.html

The "Grafik 1" in the second link sums it up: West about constant, East an initial drop and now constant as well.
From the first link: The East German trend was only in part due to the economic breakdown. Equally important were measures that greatly improved efficiency and move to cleaner energy carriers (moving away from brown coal).

The following is a letter to the editor that I sent last November, after I read three times in the local paper during the previous few weeks that the US supposedly isn’t doing anything at all about climate change. It was in response specifically to the editorial "Im Angesicht der Gefahr" from 21. Nov. by Winfried Züfle
http://augsburger-allgemeine.de/Home/Nachrichten/Kommentare/sptnid,9_puid,1_regid,2_arid,839012.html

Zu den Kommentar "Im Angesicht der Gefahr" vom 21.11.06, von Winfried Züfle:

Ich bin auch der Meinung, dass noch mehr für den Klimaschutz getan werden sollte, aber die Aussage von Herrn Züfle: die USA "tun erst einmal gar nichts", ist zwar populär, aber irreführend.

Bei dem Klimaschutz gibt es mehr als nur das Kioto Protokoll. Wie Herr Züfle zu Recht schrieb, ist das Kioto Protokoll ein "quälend langsamer internationaler Verhandlungsprozess. Immerhin können einzelne Länder mehr tun". Tatsächlich hat die USA seit Jahren sehr wohl eine Klimaschutzpolitik und unternimmt umfangreiche internationale und nationale Anstrengungen um die globalen Treibhausgas Emissionen zu reduzieren. Unter Anderem:
Ratifiziert, finanziert, und beteiligt sich die USA an der UNFCCC und ihren Internationalen Erdbeobachtungs- und Forschungsprojekten und Technologie Transferprogramm.
Und unabhängig von der UN, leitet sie das Projekt für den Bau des ersten CO2-emissions-freien Kohlekraftwerks, fördert die Wasserstofftechnologie, schließt bilaterale Klimaschutzabkommen, und Tropenwaldschutzabkommen mit Entwicklungsländern, setzt KFZ Flottenverbrauch Limits und Strafen, fördert emissionsarme Fahrzeuge, entwickelt und fördert den Ausbau erneuerbarer Energien, fördert verbesserte Gebäude-Effizienz, fördert Kraftwärmekopplung, fördert Verbrauch von Bio-Treibstoffen, kennzeichnet verbrauchsarme Geräte und Gebäude (Energy Star Gütesiegel), setzt Richtlinien und berät Unternehmen für offiziell anerkannte Emissionsreduzierungsziele, gibt Planungshilfe für zusätzliche Klimaschutzprogramme der einzelnen Bundesstaaten und zahlreiche weitere Maßnahmen.
Immerhin leisten sich die USA etwa fünf Milliarden Dollar jährlich für den Klimaschutz.
Das Grundkonzept der Amerikanischen Klimapolitik ist, die begrenzten finanziellen Ressourcen da einzusetzen wo sie kurz-, mittel- und auch langfristig insgesamt die größte globale Wirkung haben.

Die einzelnen Bundesstaaten und Städte der USA genießen die Freiheit, zusätzlich und darüber hinaus, ihre eigene maßgeschneiderte Umweltpolitik zu machen, was sie in vielen Fällen auch tun. Es ist nur logisch und offensichtlich dass das was in New York oder Los Angeles sinnvolle Politik ist, nicht unbedingt in Hawaii, Alaska, oder Kansas sinnvoll ist. Diese Freiheit geht so weit, dass ein paar Bundesstaaten sich eigenständig zu den Kioto Protokoll verpflichtet haben, was von der Nationalregierung ausdrücklich begrüßt wurde. (Was auch sogar dann, wenn man die Aussage von Herrn Züfle ausschließlich nur auf den Kioto Protokoll beziehen möchte, wenigstens teilweise die Kritik entkräftet, dass die (Vereinigten) Staaten bezüglich des Kioto Protokolls gar nichts tun würden.)

Wie gesagt, es gibt auch Klimaschutzmaßnahmen unabhängig von dem Kioto Protokoll. Die USA hat eine eigene umfangreiche Klimapolitik parallel zum Kioto Protokoll, und glaubt damit etwa die gleiche Treibhausgasreduzierung zu erreichen wie wenn sie das Kioto Protokoll unterschrieben hätten, aber ohne sich dabei in den wirtschaftlichen Ruin zu treiben. Aber statt uns darüber zu informieren, hören wir nur dass die Amis gar nichts tun würden. Darüber welche Maßnahmen und Politik besser sind, kann man lange streiten, und ich bin auch der Meinung, dass noch mehr unternommen werden sollte, aber ich finde es nicht richtig den Eindruck zu vermitteln als ob die USA gar nichts unternehmen würde. Wie umstritten diese auch sein mögen; verdient die USA nicht wenigstens Anerkennung für die Anstrengungen die sie macht?

Das ständige Fingerzeigen auf die USA ist kontraproduktiv. Wer die Schuld in die Schuhe andere schiebt, fühlt sich selber weniger schuldig und ist weniger bereit selber die Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Es erleichtert unsere Gewissen wenn wir sagen "die sind aber noch viel schlimmer". Das Fingerzeigen ist kontraproduktiv, auch weil es uns daran hindert gute Fragen zu stellen: Könnte sich Deutschland Amerika bei seinen Anstrengungen anschließen und dabei den USA helfen die globalen Emissionen noch effektiver zu reduzieren? Könnte Deutschland dabei auch profitieren? Welche erfolgreichen Amerikanischen Klimaschutzmaßnahmen könnten in Deutschland auch effektiv umgesetzt werden? Gibt es in der Amerikanischen Klimapolitik nützliche Erfahrungen mit internationalen bilateralen Klimaabkommen als Anregung für ein Kioto II, die auch die rasant zunehmend CO2 emittierenden Entwicklungsländern mit einschließt? Viele Fragen und Antworten werden von vornherein ausgeschlossen wenn man die Amerikanische Klimapolitik einfach verleugnet.

Die USA zu verteufeln hilft Deutschland sein Gewissen zu berühigen, aber der Umwelt hilft es nicht.

Mit freundlichen Grüssen,
Fred H.......

My letter never appeared in the paper, and I never received a reply, but coincidentally (?) a week or so later, they published an interview with someone from the US consulate in Munich who said that the US was not as bad as its reputation and has been quite active in Climate protection the last few years. But I had “mich gefreut” too soon: on Dec. 14 there was again a commentary in which Herr Züfle complained about the supposed inaction of the current US government.

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