APEC’s draft plan to reduce GHG intensity will do nothing to curb emissions
Reports coming out of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit say that a draft statement on climate change from the Pacific Rim nations is on the way. Early reports, however, contain this nugget:
To strike the accord, negotiators agreed to set a target to reduce “energy intensity” — the amount of energy needed to produce economic growth, Al-Farisi said.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard previously called for reducing energy intensity 25 percent by 2030. A Southeast Asian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that goal was included in the draft.
This is, as I blogged about before, a huge scam. Greenhouse-gas intensity is the emissions per unit economic output. Multiply this quantity by the size of the economy and you get total greenhouse-gas emissions.
Historically, greenhouse-gas intensity has declined all by itself as the world’s economy has evolved from manufacturing (which takes a lot of energy) to services (which take less), and as equipment has naturally become more efficient. Over the past few decades, U.S. greenhouse-gas intensity has declined somewhere between 1 and 2 percent per year without any government policies.
Based on the historical data, the target of decreasing our greenhouse gas intensity by 25 percent over 23 years is essentially a do-nothing target. We would expect such a decrease to occur naturally. And given such a modest decrease in intensity, we can still expect emissions to continue to grow rapidly — and hence climate change will continue unabated.
If this is indeed their target, it should be clear that the leaders of the APEC nations are not making any legitimate effort to head off the risk of climate change.