In an op-ed I recently cowrote with Peter Van Doren for the San Diego Union Tribune, I argued that California’s much ballyhooed legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 should probably be taken no more seriously than a New Years’ Eve Resolution. The legislation has no teeth, it has offers no program to translate wish into reality, and has all the earmarks of any number of empty environmental pledges that have turned to dust with the passage of time.
There are now strong indications that the story line we predicted for California is being played out in Europe as well. A report just out finds that without additional measures, the EU will only be able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6 percent below 1990 levels. Compare that with the 8 percent reduction promise undertaken by those same countries under the Kyoto Protocol.
One reason why environmental laws often cost less than advertised by the business community is that the goals written into those laws are subsequently ignored. But as long as politicans gain full credit for promises made and can escape blame for promises broken, this is the sort of thing that is the rule rather than the exception.