So says Margaret Wente. How can global warming be stopped if countries that are the largest contributors are not committed to the necessary reductions in their GHG emissions?
Ms. Wente referred to the proposed new US regulations on coal-fire electricity generating plants, such as the large Ohio plant in the attached image. (Source Wikipedia) As she points out, these regulations are subject to review and comment, a process that will last into next year. Expected legal challenges could result in further extensive delay. So there could be little reduction in US GHG emissions for some years, a circumstance that may result in the US missing its Copenhagen targets.
Although their effect could be limited, these regulations have ignited a political firestorm in the US. The Senate Republican Leader describes these regulations as “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class”. The Republican Party will make these regulations a main issue in US politics, starting with this year’s mid-term US Federal elections.
The Republicans would not engage in this political battle if a strong majority of US voters recognized the risks of climate change.
Assume the Republicans are right. Does that mean that this recognition will only arrive when extreme weather events occur so frequently and with such severity that the US accepts that urgent action is necessary? And will it then be too late?
If the world’s largest GHG emitter cannot make significant progress in reducing emissions, Ms. Wente is probably right in concluding that efforts to stop global warming “. . . will not make a difference. Without a revolutionary breakthrough in technology, global warming cannot be stopped or slowed by any measures short of those that would cause global economic devastation.”