The underlying differences in greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions control and renewable energy : three European countries approaches to policy Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/dv13zz300

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  • "It appears that the summer of 2003 was very likely warmer than any other summer in Europe back to 1500" (Luterbacher, 2004). This was the conclusion of a study about the changing climate of Europe by climatologists at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and published in Science in May, 2004. The study collected and analyzed data across Europe including old temperature, soil core, and tree ring records. This study also found evidence that 50% of mountain glaciers have shrunk in the past century in Europe, and some ice fields lost 10% of their mass last summer alone. Even though Luterbacher's study did not analyze the effects of human activity on earth's warming, other climatologists, including Stephen Schneider, of Stanford University, a prominent advocate of the idea that most global warming is human caused, argue that Luterbacher's study agrees with models that have predicted the impact of burning fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) on rising global temperatures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of eminent scientists, unanimously concluded in their reports in 1995 and 2001 that 'there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities' (anthropogenic sources) and predicted between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius (°C) rise in global temperatures by the end of the century. The IPCC also concluded that steps must be taken to control emissions from a specific basket of GHG emissions, namely, carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O), sulfur oxide (SO₄), and industrial gases - hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), per fluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆). This consensus led to the birth of the Kyoto Protocol ml 997, at the global climate change conference in Kyoto, Japan. Despite the evidence of rising global temperature and its possible effects, some argue for more research to understand this phenomenon. The European Union (EU), conscious of the increases in global temperatures, is taking steps to reduce fossil fuels use, the main source of GHG emissions, and promote renewable energy, a major recommendation of the Kyoto Protocol. This thesis examines the differences in policies of Germany, Poland, and UK towards reducing GHG emissions and promoting renewable energy, and concludes that, even though the countries are pursuing similar policies, their implementation differs primarily because of their different idiosyncrasies and institutional make up. Lucas 1981 reached similar conclusions in his studies. I also found that the "wall fall profits" (German investments in energy efficiency systems in former East Germany after re-unification), the "dash for gas" (substitution of natural gas for coal in UK's fuel mix), and reforms in the Polish coal industry since 1988 have been the most effective GHG emissions reduction policies for Germany, UK, and Poland respectively. The GHG emissions reductions results of Germany, UK, and Poland, and their current GDP growth rates compared to other countries not aggressively implementing the Kyoto Protocol's recommendations, are evidence that the Kyoto Protocol can help reduce GHG emissions without significantly reducing economic development.
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