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Windmills, Tides, and Solar Besides: The European Way of Energy, Transportation, and Low-Carbon Emissions

February 2013

Citation: 43 ELR 10102

Issue: 2

Author: Steven Hill

With the world facing energy shortages, unstable prices, geopolitical struggles over energy supply, and dramatic climate changes that demand less fossil fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions, Europeans have embarked on changes in their energy regime that over the course of the next half century will have as profound an effect on society as coal and steam power did in the 19th century. Meanwhile, the average American emits twice the carbon and uses twice the electricity of the average European, and each American generates about 45,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, twice as much as the average European or Japanese and many times more than someone living in China, India, or any other developing country. It is going to take a more serious and sustained effort for the United States to close the gap with Europe and other developed nations. If ever global leadership was needed, that time is now. And that leadership is being provided not by the United States, but by “old Europe.”

Steven Hill is a political writer, lecturer, and a former program director at the New America Foundation.

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