Washington, DC - Just four days before critical negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol on global warming resume, World Wildlife Fund today released a report disproving President Bush's claim that implementing the treaty would hurt the American economy. In fact, the report details how the United States could meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the treaty and save $50 billion annually by 2010, and approximately $135 billion annually by 2020.
"Far from being the economically crippling burden that the Bush Administration alleges, US efforts to reach a binding emissions reduction target could initiate a national technological and economic renaissance with cleaner energy, industrial processes and products in the coming decades," said Jennifer Morgan, director, climate change campaign, World Wildlife Fund.
The Kyoto Protocol calls on the U.S. to reduce its carbon emissions by seven percent under its 1990 emissions by 2010. President Bush withdrew his support for the Protocol early in his administration, saying measures needed to reduce U.S. carbon emissions could devastate the U.S. economy.
Using Department of Energy models for the policy analysis, the report "The American Way to Kyoto" combines domestic policies and measures and some of the flexibility tools available to countries that ratify the Protocol to assess the cost to the U.S. economy. For domestic measures the report targets four main economic sections: buildings, electricity generation, transportation, and industry. Legislative initiatives already exist on many of these sectors. For the international pieces, the report is based on elements of the negotiating text that are on the table for next week's talks at the Bonn climate negotiations.
"If the Bush Administration were to choose to seriously address climate change and energy policy, the Kyoto Protocol is the way to go," said Morgan.
Through new appliance standards, a carbon emissions permit auction, tax credits, increased fuel economy of passenger vehicles, the co-generation of heat and power, minimum renewable energy production standards, increased use of high-speed rail and other measures, the U.S. could reduce its energy consumption by 11 percent by 2010 and 30 percent by the year 2020, the report states. Carbon emissions would fall to 2.5 percent above 1990 levels by 2010, and would fall well below 1990 levels by 2020. The rest of the Kyoto target would be met by reducing other greenhouse gases and utilizing a limited amount of the Kyoto market mechanisms. If the United States does nothing, its carbon emissions would rise by 35 percent by 2010, concludes the report.
Some of the measures include the development and use of new technologies, which would "enhanc[e] the standing of the United States as a supplier of innovative and environmentally superior technologies and practices," the report states.
The report's analysis shows that national savings in energy bills would exceed the amount spent on investments in more efficient technologies and expenditures for low carbon fuels. By 2010, the average savings would exceed the additional costs of new equipment by $13 billion per year, or nearly $113 per household, the report states.
When the costs and savings of all policies are combined, they yield cumulative net savings of $105 billion in 2010, and approximately $576 billion in 2020. The added benefits include a 40 percent reduction of sulfur emissions by 2010-68 percent below 1990 levels; a decrease in fine particle matter-a main cause of respiratory ailments; and a decrease in mercury emissions, the report concludes.
Representatives from over 160 countries will meet next week in Bonn to finalize the rules for the Kyoto Protocol. The Bush Administration has stated its opposition to the Protocol but will be attending the meeting. The key question is whether the United States will block the conclusion of the rules by other countries or allow them to move ahead with the Kyoto Protocol.
"This report makes a strong case that the U.S. can achieve the Kyoto Protocol without damaging the economy," concluded Morgan, who will be attending the critical upcoming talks on the Protocol in Bonn July 16-27. "There is no need for the Bush administration to reject this important effort to address global warming. We call on the administration to adopt these measures, and to not obstruct other countries as they begin negotiations on the Protocol in Bonn next week."
Read the report: "The American Way to Kyoto" (PDF format)