No one outside of the environmental movement expected the Paris climate treaty to be a game changer, but already we’re seeing signs of an unwillingness to follow through on the deal—in “green” Europe of all places! Only three European countries—France, Germany, and Sweden—are following through on their commitments they made in Paris 15 months ago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Guardian reports:
“EU politicians portraying themselves as climate leaders should put their money where their mouth is by closing loopholes in the EU’s key climate law and pushing for more ambition,” said Femke de Jong, the EU policy director for Carbon Market Watch, a campaign group that co-drafted the EU Climate Leadership Boardsurvey.
Loopholes abound for Europe, it seems. The Guardian continues:
Several countries have tried to gain wiggle room in the talks by pushing for measures such as a later (and higher) baseline for measuring their CO2 cuts, or greater use of forestry credits to meet the EU’s climate goal…Other “loopholes” identified in the paper include a handout of 100m surplus ETS allowances, worth an expected €2bn, to nine countries to help them meet their emissions obligations on paper. […]
Carlos Calvo Ambel, a spokesperson for Transport & Environment, the survey’s other co-sponsor, said: “The great majority of countries want to rig the law with loopholes so they can continue business as usual. Either Europe follows the lead of Sweden, Germany and France, which are going in the right direction, though not far enough, or we should forget about our climate leadership.”
Forget about your climate leadership, indeed. In fact, if we look at the numbers, Germany—one of the three European nations judged by this new survey to be following through on its commitments—is continuing to see its greenhouse gas emissions rise.
The real global green leader at this point is the United States, despite the fact that our president is a climate skeptic and our EPA chief is an outright denier. The U.S. saw its emissions drop 3 percent last year, not because of any eco-friendly executive orders signed by then-President Obama, but rather because of the glut of shale gas we’re sitting on, gas that has undercut dirtier burning coal-fired power plants on price.
You could see this mess coming from a mile away. Lacking any proper enforcement mechanisms, countries across Europe are going to continue to try and wriggle out of the commitments they made, knowing that there aren’t any consequences to face if they stray to far. And if this is happening in Europe, where green mania is strongest, imagine what sort of fuzzy math and loophole seeking is going on in parts of the world less enamored with addressing the climate change problem.