Issue Date: July 16, 2007
Sacrificing to reduce emissions
At first glance, the Government & Policy Concentrate titled "Bush Calls for Global Emissions Strategy" sounds like good news (C&EN, June 4, page 27). But since 1992, when our President agreed with other world leaders at the Earth Summit to reduce the dangerous level of greenhouse gas emissions, U.S. emissions have risen 15%.
We can expect that, as in the case of the Kyoto protocol, nations will not agree to any enforcement provisions in greenhouse gas emissions targets they accept in future agreements. Instead of endless negotiations to replace Kyoto when it expires, the U.S. should set an example by doing the many things for which we have the technology. A prompt and drastic increase in CAFE standards for vehicles, mandatory efficiency standards for appliances, and mandatory CO2 capture and underground storage (CCS) for new power plants are examples. We should supply IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) and CCS technologies and financial help to countries such as India and China for use in the many power plants they will be building.
It is an ethical and moral question: Are Americans willing to sacrifice some of their luxuries for the sake of future generations and to exert the necessary pressure on their political leaders?
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