While the “green” countries like Austria or Switzerland are slowly surrendering the dream to reach the carbon dioxide limits set by the Kyoto Protocol, one of the few countries, which will probably reach them, is USA. Those United States, which refused to ratify Kyoto and were strongly criticized by the western world community for this decision.
This situation would be unimaginable just a few years ago. How is such rapid change possible and how is it that nobody hasn’t seen it coming? Because, as Julian Simon brilliantly noted some years ago, human mind in the form of scientific progress and managerial solutions for overcoming obstacles is immeasurable and unpredictable.
Until recently, shale gas was almost useless and difficultly accessible source of energy. However, thanks to development in extraction technologies, USA overcame Russia as the top gas producer in 2010. Today, gas is five times cheaper in USA than in Europe and it becomes an important source of electric energy. Analyses say that in the next four years 175 coal-run power plants will be closed in the USA. The CO2 emissions are at 20-years low in the States and they should drop below 1980 level until the year 2016, not the mention even more dramatic drop in NO2 and SO2 emissions, which are typical for coal power plants.
Not every country has huge gas deposits, but the current situation demonstrates, how little we can predict the future development of our society, not to say to direct it by regulations, limits and multilateral agreements. Despite the huge sunken cost in coal-powered power plants, energy producers are able to react quickly on the change and offer cleaner and cheaper electric current. Something what is not achieved even after ten rounds of political meetings with coffees and biscuits.