The United States has been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and thus the largest contributor to climate change, a US environmental agency said Friday.
In a report entitled "First in Emissions, Behind in Solutions," the Washington-based National Environmental Trust said that the United States releases more global warming gases than Africa, Central and Latin America and most of the developing countries of Asia combined.
The report, released at the on-going World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), said that the United States as the wealthiest country in the world is well equipped to address global warming but has failed to take any significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States has not even set up a system for reporting and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions or a central office to study and recommend policy alternatives for addressing emissions reductions, the report said.
"Attempting to excuse this failure to act, some US government leaders have claimed that actions to address global warming will harm the US economy and place it at a disadvantage relative to developing countries," it said.
"In contrast, developing countries are implementing policies to reduce the growth of their emissions of greenhouse gases even as they strive for economic development," it noted.
The 81-page report give detailed figures of greenhouse gas emissions from different states of the United States and makes a comparison with the emissions from developing countries.
Citing China as an example, the report said that the energy intensity of China's economy has fallen steadily since the late 1970s, dropping faster than in industrialized nations.
And from 1989, China has been a world leader in developing and enforcing minimum efficiency standards for appliance, including refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines.
In 1996, more stringent standards were mandated for refrigerators and air-conditioners, it said, adding that this trend is expected to continue.
In contrast, the United States has failed to set the highest possible efficiency standards, although it has the technology to do so.
The report warns that continued US denial of responsibility for reducing its share of global warming will not only have severe consequences for less developed nations and their citizens, but it will also have profound consequences for this nation's economy, its environment, and the well being of its citizens.
(People's Daily August 31, 2002)