John McCain’s carbon targets


in Politics, Science, The environment

In a speech delivered in Oregon, John McCain laid out some targets for reducing American greenhouse gas emissions:

  • 2012: Return emissions to 2005 levels (18 percent above 1990 levels)
  • 2020: Return emissions to 1990 levels (15 percent below 2005 levels)
  • 2030: 22 percent below 1990 levels (34 percent below 2005 levels)
  • 2050: 60 percent below 1990 levels (66 percent below 2005 levels)

These targets look pretty similar to the ones adopted by the present Canadian government: a peak in emissions by 2012, a reduction to 20% below 2006 levels by 2020, and a 60-70% reduction below 2006 levels by 2050.

Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations below 550ppm probably requires more aggressive action. That being said, this is not a terrible place from which to begin negotiations: both between presidential candidates in the United States and between the United States and other countries. If the US was willing to commit to those targets unilaterally (and do so with a credible plan for actually achieving them), it might become a lot easier to get countries like China and India to begin making a more substantial contribution to the mitigation effort.

In exchange, the United States could adopt the kind of targets (and supplemental actions, like aid in preventing tropical deforestation) that are actually required to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at a level around 450ppm, thus keeping total global temperature change in the realm of two degrees Celsius.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. May 13, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Things younger than John McCain

* Bugs Bunny
* Plutonium
* Alaska
* Both of Barack Obama’s parents
* Israel
* Superman
* Helvetica
* The ballpoint pen
* Ronald Reagan

Neal May 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Of course, McCain also says that these targets are achievable without regulation or taxation of any kind. I guess it just shows how far you can get in American politics by assuming that the electorate is dumber than a sack of hammers.

R.K. May 13, 2008 at 5:06 pm

I agree.

It is easy to set targets that politicians decades hence will need to meet (or forget about). It is a lot harder to start implementing changes that may be politically unpopular.

A goal without a plan amounts to very little.

Anon May 14, 2008 at 10:04 am

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

Douglas Adams

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