President Obama Pays Tribute at Copenhagen

“Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a tribute that vice pays to virtue.” – François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld.

US President Barack Obama set off for some jet-setting, a trophy presentation and perhaps a night of poetry from the always rhythmically-challenged Albert Gore. His carbon foot print included a trip to Norway to pocket his peace prize and then the ever-so-green, jet-fueled excursion to Copenhagen.

In Copenhagen our fearless leader made me very happy. He completely undermined what remained of the political environmental movement after the leaking of East Anglia University’s emails about climate deception. After a stirring Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, he then disappointed with his actual specifics. The Times Online describes the offer our President made to the climate “scientists and negotiators.”

President Obama has offered to cut US emissions by 4 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, subject to approval by the US Congress. The EU has committed to a 20 per cent cut over the same time scale, but said it would raise this to 30 per cent if other countries made comparable efforts.

With no environmental regulation in place beyond the last EPA act passed under George H. W. Bush on the law books, the US reduced our YoY CO2 output by over 2% in 2008. We average a gain of 0.8% between 1990 and 2008. To get to a 4% reduction in 10 years, we need to reduce CO2 emissions from 115% of 1990 levels; down to 96% of 1990 levels. This would require us to tighten the belt by 1.79% per year.

Eliminating the next Al Gore poetry slam and grounding Nancy Pelosi’s fleet of private Congressional jets would have us well on the way. Again, Mr. Obama offers us the most eloquently spoken promise of nothing with a caveat that the Democratic Party can capably produce. Compared to what the IPCC went hunting for in Copenhagen, this is the Audacity of Null. The IPCC goals follow below.

A draft text published by the UN says that there should be a review in 2016, which could result in an “update of the long-term global goal for emissions reductions as well as of the The Times has learnt that negotiators from developed countries are planning to use the idea of a review to justify failing to agree the 25-40 per cent cut in the 1990 level of emissions by 2020, recommended by the IPCC.

To reach UN IPCC goals, President Obama would have had to have committed the US to a reduction in CO2 of 2.83% per year for a 25% reduction in 2008 levels. To get to a 25% reduction in 1990 levels, it gets patently ridiculous. The US is at 115% of 1990 levels. We would need to get back down to 75% of 1990 levels. The President would now have to sign us up for reducing our CO2 emissions by 4.18% a year for the next decade.

The 4.18% per year reduction drags us coughing and gagging over the UN IPCC threshold. Their objective was a 40% reduction from 1990 levels. We would have to go from 115% of 1990 levels down to 60%. This would require annual reductions of 6.3% per year. If this all sounds like another exercise in High School Algebra, it pretty much was. (OK, perhaps Algebra II Trig).

At this point, before we brush up the ppt. slides and mobilize Americans Coming Together, let’s examine what happened when the US took an involuntary 2.5% reduction in CO2 emissions for 2008. The US Energy Information Administration offers us details wholly absent from the agenda at Jolly Old Copenhagen.

Energy prices

In 2008, gasoline and diesel prices were at their all-time peak level. Near the end of the year, despite lower energy prices, gasoline and diesel demand was dampened by a drop in consumer income.

Lower economic growth.

In 2008, GDP growth was a modest 1.1 percent. In the 4th quarter, GDP fell at an annual rate of 6.3 percent.

Total energy consumption in 2008 fell by 2.2 percent

So, YES WE CAN cut back on those nasty CO2 emissions. Make gasoline prohibitively expensive, stop growing the American economy and you get a nice, thumping reduction in energy demand. It sounds like the 14th Century had its strong points that Barbara Tuchman left out of A Distant Mirror. With that Medieval Warming Period burning at the bottom of the East Anglia University Memory Hole, we can look forward to an era of reduced industrialization and lower global temperatures.

Yet this supposed cure for our hypothesized problem comes at onerous, non-hypothetical expense to the people of the world. In the US, between 2006 and 2009, CO2 emissions dropped by the aggregate rate of almost 1% per year from 2006 levels. US unemployment, however, went from 4.50% to 10.2% (as of October 2009). This implies an annual drop in employment of 2.03% per year in synonymy with the reduction in US CO2 emissions.

What this suggests for President Obama is that he operates in a trade space with respect to environmental restrictions on CO2 emissions. He can trade another additional 2% of unemployment for another additional 1% reduction in CO2 emissions. It would require the disappearance of several large islands in the Caribbean under the rising seas of a raging Atlantic to make this strategy politically feasible. I would have opined this way prior to the Russian espionage efforts against the CRU.

So our President; who announced after his victory in The South Carolina Democratic Primary that “Today is the Dayyy that we reverse the rise in the Earth’s Oceans!,” has just done his part to sandbag the entire Copenhagen effort with a lowball bid for CO2 reduction. The environmentalists may well cry “Hypocrisy, Mr. Obama, Hypocrisy!” They may very well be right.

However disgusting this may be for the true believers, François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, reminded us well of the true nature of hypocrisy. Mr. Obama must put on a show for his big environmentalist donors, but he can’t be the man who puts more Americans out of work than Herbert Hoover. His hypocrisy is a bow that vice takes to virtue. Through his lukewarm activism at Copenhagen, President Obama bowed before the virtue of avoiding an economic dark age.