Kerry climate math does not add up

Secretary of State John Kerry might be the only administration official who should stick to talking points after a series of off-the-cuff remarks about U.S. emissions proved inaccurate.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler spotted the inaccuracy and awarded Kerry’s comments three Pinocchios.

“We are below the Kyoto levels now. We are below the Waxman-Markey levels. … We are doing things but nobody is doing enough,” Kerry said in Ethiopia last week. The secretary made a similar statement in Sweden on May 15.

“The United States of America today is below Kyoto levels in emissions. People don’t know that. The United States today is actually below the Waxman-Markey legislation mandates that didn’t pass. So we’re doing things — automobile efficiency, standards, efficiencies, building codes, fleet purchase, all kinds of things, but not enough. No one is doing enough,” Kerry said.

The Kyoto Protocol was an international United Nations treaty designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s largest industrialized nations. Negotiated in 1997 by the Clinton administration, Kyoto set to reduce emissions by 5.2 percent from levels measured in 1990, while the U.S. specifically intended to cut 7 percent by 2012. Although signed, Kyoto was never approved by the Senate’s constitutional treaty oversight.

According to official emissions data gathered in 2011 — the most recent available — the U.S. was 9.5 percent higher in greenhouse emissions than in 1990, as reported by The Associated Press.

Waxman-Markey was a bill proposed by the 2009 Democratically-controlled House capping greenhouse emissions at 3 percent below 2005 levels by 2012. That piece of legislation never made it through the Senate either.

The 2011 numbers reflect the Waxman-Markey goal, but only as a result of a much less productive economy than could have been foreseen in 2005. According to the bill’s language, the requirements would only recently be in the process of implementation — making the number more a result of the space-time continuum than any conscious government intervention.

Referring to a remark by president Obama made during a Copenhagen summit in 2009, Kerry also said the U.S. accomplished its goal of cutting emissions an additional 17 percent from the 2005 measurement by 2020. Government data reflects only a 7 percent reduction between 2005 and 2011.

The remarks do not appear in the official State Department transcript, nor in his official speech to the Artic Council Ministerial Session — all were obtained via recording according to The Associated Press and The Washington Post.

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