The Spectacle Blog

Obama’s Emissions

By on 5.20.10 | 10:11AM

So yesterday President Obama held a joint presentation (it was clearly not a press conference) with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon. Listening to the audio, it sure sounded like Obama was hailing Mexico under Calderon as "a leader in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and in helping developing countries do the same." Read the transcript yourself, and you'll see that it reads more ambiguously, and that possibly Obama's intention was to say that the U.S. is a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and Calderon has shown leadership among those developing countries.

I admit a slight bias against the latter interpretation given Obama's history of bemoaning U.S. irresponsibility and reckless performance in the days Before Obama. And because he is addicted not just to viscerally blaming the Bush administration for anything that occurs, but also to taking gratuitous and often inaccurate or at best wildly spinning shots. Including in this particular context. So it would be very odd that Obama would suddenly be hailing emission reductions under Bush.

Here are the most recent emission figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for CO2 emissions from energy consumption, in millions of metric tons and ending in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available:

                                2000                       2008              % change

U.S.                        5863.809              5832.818              - 0.05

Mexico                      383.326                444.565             + 11.6

And, as to more recent performance (last five years for which data are available):

                                2004                       2008              % change

U.S.                        5965.321              5832.818              - 2.2

Mexico                      385.988                444.565            + 15.2

So let's assume that Obama was not saying Calderon has cut emissions. To say that would be to offer yet another example of a man for whom facts do not matter, only rhetoric, and who rarely misses an opportunity, real or perceived, to use that rhetoric to speak ill of his own country -- if generally as a way to criticize those with whom he disagrees and/or who the guy preceded him in office -- while absurdly hailing others whom he sees as models for his "fundamental transformation".

That would be unseemly. So let's instead assume Obama was praising U.S. emissions performance under Bush. Yet, that would be truly aberrant. Unseemly would be far more likely.

But if we take the transcript, audio and Obama's history together, it is equally likely that he is hailing (and taking credit for) emission reductions that came on his watch so far, which are as a result of the recession. Which is as bad as the first interpretation.

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