USA: The high cost of fossil fuels
According to a recent report published by a US environmental organization, fossil fuels are due to cost the United States up to $23 trillion between 2010 and 2030. To TreeHugger, these energy sources cost one trillion in 2008 alone.
85 percent of US energy comes from coal, oil and natural gas. This leaves only 15 percent to low carbon energy sources. Energy efficiency would enable American businesses and citizens to save huge amounts of money.
In this regard, both the new mileage requirements and cap-and-trade are steps in the right direction but are to little to really change the situation.
As we have seen previously the new mileage requirement – around 36 MPG by 2016 for US cars – is dramatically behind the European mileages which are due to reach the equivalent of 47 MPG by 2012.
I was at that time advocating that the US mileage reach 50 MPG by 2015. To TreeHugger, Chinese cars already get 43 MPG…
Cap and Trade also represents a step in the right direction but falls short in terms of greenhouse gases emissions reduction. The French financial daily Les Echos published a graph worth reproducing here.
Click to enlarge – Image credit: Les Echos [Fr]
The red line represents the US greenhouse gases emissions, which increased by nearly 20 percent since 1990 and would decrease little beyond 1990 levels in 2020.
It is worth noting that the IPCC advocates to cut these emissions at least by 25 percent below these levels in the next 10 years. The trend continuation for the European show that cutting by 20 or 30 percent is feasible.
Back to the study, it is interesting to note that :
- In 2006, American consumers and businesses spent $921 billion—or close to 7 percent of America’s gross domestic product—on fossil fuels, more than the nation spends on education or the military.In 2008, national expenditures on fossil fuels likely topped $1 trillion for the first time ever. Each year, more than 70 percent of this money is spent on oil.
- In 2007, America spent more than $360 billion importing fossil fuels, with the vast majority of that money spent on crude oil. That money is a direct transfer of wealth from American consumers to oil companies and foreign governments.
- For every dollar that an American household spends each year, about 10 cents are likely to go toward the purchase of energy, with most of that money spent on fossil fuels.
For more, please check out the official page of the study.
To conclude, I would like to remind you that we have seen that America can dramatically cut its energy use. Cf:
If solutions exist, why wouldn’t America apply them ?