Gas Guzzlers 1 – 0 Common Sense

Just when I was getting excited about the prospect of a paradigm shift in the editorial policy of The Economist, I’ve been brought back down to earth with a bump.

Defeating neo-classical economics is one thing, appealing to a US politician’s common sense is another. The United States, with less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, accounts for 25 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, but this is a political ‘non-issue’ in the US. In amongst the small print of the New York Times today, there is an optimistic-sounding headline, Senate Defeats Climate Bill, but Proponents See Silver Lining. Just exactly what silver lining the proponents of the Bill are referring to is not immediately obvious to me! Apparently, the 55-to-43 vote against constituted “a surprising amount of support, signaling that the concept of a policy on global warming has gained traction.” What?! If successful, this Bill was to require companies to restrict carbon dioxide emissions so that they will be no higher in 2010 than they were in 2000. This is far more modest than the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a 7 per cent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2010.