IT'S NOT A QUESTION OF INTENSITY.

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released yesterday found an increase in carbon dioxide emissions in 2007. Emissions were 19 billion tonnes higher than 2006, and have been increasing ever-faster since 2000. This is especially important in light of George Bush's climate speech last week, in which he claimed, "I have put our nation on a path to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions."

Of course, he often emphasizes slowing our "greenhouse gas intensity," which is quite different than curbing our "greenhouse gas emissions." Intensity is the amount of emissions per unit of economic output, and that's been declining 1-2 percent per year on its own as our economy moves from manufacturing to largely service-based. But since our economy has continued to grow a rate faster than carbon intensity has declined, our emissions have increased. So when Bush claimed success last week in achieving the goal he set in 2002 of reducing America's greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent by 2012, it wasn't due to anything he'd actually done -- the 1.8 percent decline per year would have happened anyway.

So Bush's claim last week that "we remain on track to meet this goal even as our economy has grown 17 percent" is entirely false in light of these latest figures from NOAA. Not to mention the fact that these numbers make it increasing clear how dangerous it is that the plan Bush outlined last week calls for "halting the growth" of U.S. emissions by 2025. Not only does this not include a plan for mandatory cuts or enforcement mechanisms, but it also means 17 more years of unfettered emissions -- emissions that are increasing rapidly.

--Kate Sheppard

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