Energy & Climate: All Talk, No Action?

Europe's made significant progress regarding global warming, but not toward energy independence

Sources: Greenhouse-gas emissions: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data, detailed by party

Total carbon dioxide emissions for BRIC countries: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Oil imports: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2010
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Even if you regard energy independence as absurd and global warming a hoax, you can be sure that reducing fossil fuel imports and cutting greenhouse-gas emissions will long be twin guideposts to policy and investment decisions. So it seems sensible to take stock of how the advanced industrial countries have been doing. Here's what the latest available numbers show:

Japan's dependence on insecure OPEC and Russian-region oil has decreased, while Europe's dependence has increased even more markedly.

The countries most supportive of the Kyoto Protocol—Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom—have gone a long way toward keeping their commitments. But the United States has not kept pace, and there has been a sharp rise in the emissions of the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries, especially China.

U.S. emissions decreased just 1.2 percent from 2000 to 2008, while Germany's and the United Kingdom's dropped 6.5 percent and Japan's 4.6 percent.

The 15 European countries that originally signed the Kyoto Protocol targets have cut their emissions by 3.5 percent since 2000, and the 27-member European Union of today by 2.4 percent.