Give Bush some (perverse) credit for emissions drop

The Washington Post reported that President Bush made the following claim at a fundraiser:

“Do you realize that the United States is the only major industrialized nation that cut greenhouse gases last year?”

The Post noted immediately that White House “was unable to substantiate the claim” because they really don’t know what other industrialized nations have done.

But does Bush deserve any credit for the unusual U.S. drop in emissions? I say, “yes,” but only in a perverse way — his failed energy policy (and the failed reconstruction of the Iraqi oil industry) helped set the stage for sharply increased gasoline prices in 2006, which moderated oil consumption.


The White House claims “Progress is due in part to natural causes, innovation and market forces, and emerging federal, state and local policies.” Uhh, how do “emerging federal … policies” change anything? Answer — they don’t until they actually emerge, which for this Administration is pretty much never.

I have previously noted the actual reasons for the drop in 2006 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions:

1) higher gasoline prices — a 25% jump from 2005

2) a sharp drop in heating demand from an unusually warm winter — thank you, global warming [no, I won’t blame this on Bush’s failed climate policy — it will take decades for that to translate into an endless stream of warm winters]

3) a decline in natural gas prices — thanks to the warm winter — and hence more use of this clean fuel for electricity generation.

If you meet someone who repeats the nonsensical claim that Bush’s climate policies had something to do with this emissions drop — presumably they would be happy to take a bet that these policies will continue to reduce emissions. The bet I’d offer on 2007 emissions is to give them $100 for every 0.1% emissions drop this year against $100 for every 0.1% rise this year. I’m sure there will be no takers.