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Kyoto, a misunderstanding of one billion tons of CO2

Kyoto, a misunderstanding of one billion tons of CO2

By Rodrigo Irurzun

At the annual meeting of the National Climate Council on Tuesday, January 13, the president, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Isabel García Tejerina, announced that according to the data on emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG), recently sent to the United Nations, the Spanish State would have complied with the Kyoto protocol thanks to the purchase of emission rights. By signing the Kyoto treaty, the States committed themselves that the average emissions between 2008 and 2012 would not exceed a certain percentage with respect to the 1990 emissions. In most cases, these commitments meant reductions in emissions, but in In the case of the Spanish State, the treaty allowed a maximum increase of 15%.

It was assumed that the path of decline or increase would be gradual, but in the case of the Spanish State this has not been the case, and our emissions grew riotously until in 2007 they exceeded almost 50% the emissions of the base year (1990). As of that year, the drop in production, consumption and mobility due to the economic crisis had the effect of drastically reducing emissions, so that the average between 2008 and 2012 was 23.7% over the base year . The difference, up to the 15% increase foreseen by the protocol, has been fulfilled thanks to the flexibility mechanisms provided for in the treaty, mainly the purchase of emission rights worth around 800 million euros, largely from countries Eastern Europe.

Ecologists in Action's assessment is negative due to several facts. First of all, it should be noted that hardly any efforts have been made to combat climate change. Over the years, an energy, urban planning and consumption model based on waste has been promoted. The development of renewable energies has been accompanied by an increase in emissions, due among other things to increased demand and burning of coal and natural gas, as well as increased mobility and the construction of large transport infrastructure . The structural foundations for moving towards a low-carbon economy have not been laid. The new circular economy based on the conversion of waste into resources remains a chimera.

On the other hand, the path of emissions has not been gradual, as might be expected, so that, instead of increasing by an average of 0.75% per year, they increased by an average of 3% each year. If the progressive path of increase is compared with the path actually carried out, the result is the emission into the atmosphere of almost one billion additional tons, a figure that is approximately equivalent to what Spain emits in three years [i].

Theoretically, to comply with the Kyoto treaty, and as Ecologistas en Acción has been defending since its foundation, a social model should have been promoted that would reduce the consumption of materials and energy, that would advance towards energy efficiency and that would pursue progressive replacement of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), which generate greenhouse gases, by renewable energies. However, successive Spanish governments have never really taken climate change seriously and have limited themselves only to concealing and fulfilling the appearances that international commitments required of them. Without any coherent plan to lower CO2 emissions, the main greenhouse gas, Spain continued to fill the country with scattered urbanizations, highways and large infrastructures, which, in addition to involving more CO2 emissions, caused serious damage to the natural environment. Spain, in short, opted for private transport and cement while the development of some renewable energies, such as wind, served only to add renewable electricity production to the electricity system, but not to replace fossil-based energy, as shown the persistence of coal in Spanish thermal power plants [ii].

The reduction in emissions of the last seven years has not even reached the objectives to which the Spanish government committed itself (a 15% increase) and has not, moreover, been the result of a virtuous policy aimed at protecting the environment and slowing down climate change, but rather the result of the economic crisis associated with the bursting of the real estate bubble and the lesser-known energy bubble, which disproportionately triggered the installed electrical power in Spain. Likewise, as most of the “more developed” countries have done, Spain has diverted a good part of its industrial production (and employment) in recent decades, especially the most polluting, to third countries, such as China. that pollute on our part, manufacturing and transporting the products we import, although this will never be counted in our official environmental balances.

Ecologistas en Acción considers the policy followed by successive Spanish governments to be disastrous for the climate and the environment, governments that have limited themselves to incorporating the European environmental regulations that have been imposed on them but have never really assumed the environmental commitment they need. our society.

The Kyoto treaty, already quite limited in its objectives, will only be met by Spain nominally by purchasing emission rights, presuming that it has met the objectives set in the letter of the treaty but keeping silent, in a shameful way, those almost one billion tons of CO2 emitted in excess and the fact that only the unforeseen circumstances of the economic crisis have prevented Spanish emissions from soaring to unimaginable limits.

Meanwhile, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has gone from 354 ppm (parts per million) in 1990 to 398 ppm in 2014 and nothing seems to indicate that this growth will be stopped, at least as long as humanity does not. substantially change your way of relating to nature.

Only a change of course in the economic and energy policy of our country, based on true sustainability, would be the guarantee of compliance with climate and environmental justice requirements.


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