The White House issued a press release yesterday about the report (PDF) by the Energy Information Administration that U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions for 2006 were 1.5 percent below the 2005 level. Here is the text of the press release:
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I was pleased to receive the Energy Information Administration’s final report today, which includes U.S. greenhouse gas emissions for 2006. The final report shows that emissions declined 1.5 percent from the 2005 level, while our economy grew 2.9 percent. That means greenhouse gas intensity — how much we emit per unit of economic activity — decreased by 4.2 percent, the largest annual improvement since 1985. This puts us well ahead of the goal I set in 2002 to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent by 2012.
My Administration’s climate change policy is science-based, encourages research breakthroughs that lead to technology development, encourages global participation, and pursues actions that will help ensure continued economic growth and prosperity for our citizens and for people throughout the world. Since 2001, we have spent almost $37 billion on climate science, technology development, and incentives and international assistance. Recently, we convened representatives of the world’s major economies — the largest users of energy and largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, from both developed and developing nations — to discuss a new international approach on energy security and climate change. Our aim is to agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework in 2008 that would contribute to a global agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2009. The United States looks forward to working with partners to reach consensus on a “Bali Roadmap” at the upcoming UN meeting on climate change in Indonesia in December.
Energy security and climate change are two of the important challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously, and we are effectively confronting climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong investment in new technologies. Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.
There are a few noteworthy aspects to the report and this press release.
First, if you read the press release carefully, you see that they do not attribute the reduction to the president’s plan. That’s because the report clearly says the reduction is …
… due to favorable weather conditions; higher energy prices; a decline in the carbon intensity of electric power generation that resulted from increased use of natural gas, the least carbon intensive fossil fuel; and greater reliance on non-fossil fuels.
From what I can tell from the report, the favorable weather was the main cause: 2006 featured an extremely warm winter and a slightly cool summer, both of which tend to reduce energy consumption.
Other than higher energy prices, which are least partially attributed to our adventures in Iraq, none of these reasons can be attributed to any Bush policy. And I don’t think Bush wants to take credit for higher energy prices.
And the report make us clear that this decrease is a fluke that will not last. The report predicts that over the next few decades, U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases will grow by an average of 1.1 percent per year.
And finally, the press release emphasizes greenhouse gas intensity, rather than emissions. As I’ve blogged before, casting progress on the climate problem in terms of greenhouse-gas intensity is a huge scam. It’s enough to make you think that the Bush administration doesn’t really care about solving this problem.