For years, American greens have looked with envy at the situation across the pond. If only we were nice and green like Europe! If only we had higher energy taxes and a cap and trade law!
But Europe’s green policies, though expensive, have a way of coming up short in the results department. More evidence appeared this week as BusinessWeek reports Europe is now burning dirty coal at its fastest rate since 2006. Where are they getting this coal? The U.S.:
Arch, which opened a London sales office on March 1, “expanded our reach with a dedicated sales team in Europe because we see increasing energy demand,” Kim Link, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company, said in an e-mail yesterday.
Companies in the world’s biggest economy are spending at least $530 million to expand coal-export capacity to meet overseas demand, David Host, chief executive officer of shipping agent T Parker Host Inc., said June 22 at the IHS McCloskey Coal USA Conference in New York. Capacity will grow 35 percent to 285 million tons annually by 2015, he said.
Meanwhile, in gas-guzzling brown America the opposite is happening. Despite our lack of a cap and trade program or any similarly strict anti-carbon measures, America is moving away from coal as an energy production source due to the wide availability of cheap natural gas. Coal’s share of total energy production fell from 41 percent to 32 percent in the past year, and as shale gas discoveries continue this is likely to fall further as gas prices drop.
Europe may not be quite as bad at energy policy as it is at currency policy, but it’s hard to argue on the basis of results that Europe is much of a role model. Gaia can’t be very happy with her European advocates these days. Let’s hope she doesn’t smite them too hard.