What Hath Kyoto Wrought?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

The Kyoto Protocol is the quixotic attempt by some countries around the world to reduce each participating country’s CO2 emissions to their emission levels in 1990. Since CO2 emissions are a measure of the energy used, that seemed foolish to me, but hey, I was born yesterday. I figured nobody would be that dumb, and although the leaders might agree to such a goofy plan, people would find ways around the restrictions.

There are two very different groups of countries who have signed up to Kyoto to reduce emissions. One group is called the “Economies In Transition” (EIT) group. These are the Eastern European countries who were going from communism to capitalism. They are composed of Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. They’ve done well at reducing to 1990 levels, since their 1990 emissions were all high, and have declined since after the fall of the Soviet Empire. They’ve reduced their emissions, but no thanks to Kyoto. Indeed, some signed on just so they could sell their carbon credits, because their countries were already below the 1990 levels by the time they ratified … and they did very well at the scam, too. Russia made big bucks from selling credits to the rest of the fools …

The other group, called the “non-EIT” group, is composed of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. This is the group of interest, as they are the group which is like the US—established democracies with generally mature industrialized economies.

I took this issue up because of the recent release of the newest CO2 emission figures for 2009-2010. These gave me the opportunity to investigate the question in the title—what difference has Kyoto made? How much has Kyoto affected the emissions of the countries involved? Carbon saved is carbon earned … Figure 1 shows the emissions of the US, and the emissions of the Kyoto non-EIT nations, from 1990 to 2010.

Figure 1. Annual Emissions of Carbon. Units are billions of metric tonnes of carbon (C, not CO2). “Kyoto Countries” is the total of all of the non-EIT countries, as listed above. Data Source Up to 2008  and 2008-2010 Photo Source 


Other than the post-2007 drop due to the 2008 global financial crisis and ensuing world-wide depression, what can we see in this data?

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