I enjoyed Thomas Friedman’s article from last week’s NYTimes. I agreed with most of it, apart from:
“On the first point, what the Germans have done in converting almost 30 percent of their electric grid to renewable energy from near zero in about 15 years has been a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate.”
Even at its supposed peak of CO2 emissions, in 2000, Germany emitted 0.87 billion tonnes of CO2. This constituted only 3% of global CO2 emissions that year. The figure did decrease slightly (to 0.84 in 2013), despite the fact that global emissions rose by 1/3 at the same time. Yet, Germany was and is a minor player in the battle for clean air, even though it is one of the top 10 world CO2 emitters.
The big emitters – China and to a lesser degree the US, the whole of the EU, and India – are the only ones who could make tangible “contributions to the stability of our planet”.
This is not to say that Germany’s actions are not praiseworthy or impressive. However, as long as they are not emulated by other big emitters, they resemble only a few clean drops in a dirty ocean.