Kerry greeted in Ethiopia.

State DepartmentKerry greeted in Ethiopia.

We did it! Despite never ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, America has surpassed the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets laid out in the treaty.

Or so claimed Secretary of State John Kerry while visiting Ethiopia on Sunday. “We’re below the Kyoto levels now,” he told a group.

The one problem is that we’ve done no such thing, and we are below no such levels right now. From the AP, via NPR:

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The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the Clinton administration signed but never won ratification for, called on the U.S. to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent from 1990 levels. Although a natural gas surge and economic woes have helped the U.S. lower emissions, they were still up some 9.5 percent from 1990 to 2011, the last year for which full data is available.

Hmmm. Perhaps he just misspoke? Wait, there’s more:

Kerry also said the country met a target to cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Government data shows about a 7 percent reduction from 2005 to 2011.

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Well, that’s not so egregious — the AP’s figures show that the U.S. is more or less on track to meet that target.

It’s encouraging to hear Kerry talking up the importance of climate action as he travels the world, representing the U.S. as its top ambassador. But just a couple weeks ago he was apologizing for a lack of American action on global warming, and now he’s overstating America’s actions on the same.

There doesn’t seem to be much point in trying to cover up — or even apologize for — the country’s historical global warming shortcomings. Tossing misleading data at foreign audiences isn’t just counterproductive — it’s insulting. Everybody has the internet now, John.

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