Time Warp: Bloomberg Touts UN Report Calling for U.S. Emission Cuts to 1901 Levels

Bloomberg’s Eric Roston attempted to keep a straight face while promoting a draft report for the United Nations. It said U.S. emissions would need to be “cut to one-tenth of current levels, per person, in less than 40 years.” Short of societal regression, it is unclear how that could be done.

“It’s perilous to say these things in the U.S., where a mere description of the scale of the climate challenge too often invites ridicule and dismissiveness. Americans are each responsible for about 18 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Taking that down 90 percent would mean a drop in emissions to what they were in about 1901 or 1902. Cue ridicule and dismissiveness,” Roston wrote.

In 1901, air conditioning hadn’t been invented yet, neither had the Model T ford, nor the Internet. Let alone the many feats in medicine, engineering and technology that all require energy use to improve lifestyles and lengthen life spans.

Yet, Roston argued that “making fun” of such steep emissions cuts was “shortsighted” and that the report was a “worthwhile description of the challenge at hand.”

The study Roston described was the 218-page “Pathways to Deep Decarbonization” report from the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). The SDSN is related to the UN and boasts many climate alarmists including its director: George Soros’ crony Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University who once downplayed the ClimateGate scandal claiming the skeptics were trying to “Swiftboat” scientists. The group also includes former UN IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri, and former NASA scientist James Hansen.

The report claimed “it is technically feasible” for the U.S. to reduce emissions to 85 percent lower than 1990 levels through three strategies: “highly efficient” energy use in buildings, transportation and industry, “decarbonization of electricity and other fuels,” and “fuel switching” from high-carbon to low-carbon fuels.

Digging deeper it becomes clear that would require a total transformation of American society including new standards for all new buildings and retrofitting all existing buildings’ heating, lighting and more. Lightbulb fans will be particularly pleased to learn of the LED mandate for all buildings. A complete rebalance of energy sources would also be necessary.

Under one version of the fantasy plan submitted to the UN, all coal plants would need to be capable of carbon capture and storage (CCS) or be eliminated by 2050. CCS plants would make up 30 percent of the energy supply. They currently supply zero in the U.S.

Currently, the first U.S. coal power plant to attempt CCS which would only have captured 65 percent of the plant’s CO2 emissions is more than a year behind schedule and The Washington Post said, ”The only thing the Kemper power plant is burning now is money.”

Additionally, 40 percent of the energy supply would be from renewables and hydro. That’s three times the current 13 percent of electricity generation according to the EIA. Nuclear power would make up the final 30 percent, requiring an increase of roughly 50 percent from its current 19 percent of the electricity mix.

The report is light on details of how the U.S. would accomplish such a feat. Sure many things are “technically feasible” when you plug them into computer models and say petroleum production will magically drop from its 39 percent share to just 6 percent by 2050, without regard for humans, technological capabilities or cost. [Obligatory Underpants Gnomes Reference Here]

Even the executive summary of the report admitted, “Many of the technologies that will need to underpin these transformations are available, but many other are not ready for large scale deployment.”

Roston may think “making fun” of the plan is “shortsighted,” but the gaping holes in its feasibility suggest otherwise.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.