Wednesday, January 10, 2007

North America vs Europe

There was an interesting report today from the Detroit Motor Show, as Chrysler's chief economist, Van Jolissaint, spouted off about how ridiculous were European views on global warming, which he characterised as a far-off risk whose magnitude was uncertain, requiring only limited policy changes like maybe a slight increase in gasoline prices or carbon taxes.
Where has this guy been? Well, the answer appears to be (no big surprise here) the USA, only recently having spent more time in Europe due to Daimler-Chrysler's German connection.
He provided us with some wonderful quotes which demonstrate the environmental stance of big business and, in particular, North American big business, including the "quasi-hysterical" environmental policies of Europe, reminiscent of "Chicken Little". Ironically, "the sky is falling" is actually a pretty apt description of what is happening, whether Mr. Jolissaint (I hesitate to call him "Van") likes it or not.
Coincidentally, this comes on the same day as the EU calls for a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2020 (30% for developed countries) as a responsible measure to address climate change and secure energy supplies.
What a yawning gap there is between the European and North American visions of this issue. It pains me to have to lump Canada into the North American camp on this but, embarrassingly, we appear to be much closer to the US philosophy, and certainly closer to their energy usage and carbon emissions profile.
Essentially, we are much closer to the ostrich with its head in the sand than we are to Chicken Little.

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