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August 19, 2002
Volume 80, Number 33
CENEAR 80 33 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347


U.S., Canada Blasted For Excess Energy Use


Supporting high standards of living in the U.S. and Canada uses up a disproportionate share of the world's natural resources and contributes to global climate change, concludes a report from the United Nations Environment Program. The two countries, with about 5% of the world's population, are responsible for 25.8% of global CO2 emissions, according to the report.

The report, "North America's Environment: Thirty-Year State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective," says citizens in the two countries have a per-capita gasoline consumption that is nine times the global average.

The U.S. and Canada have had notable success in a number of environmental areas, the report says. They have protected the ozone layer. They have controlled SO2 emissions. They have set aside 11 to 13% of the region's land in protected areas. They have slowed wetland losses, stemmed emissions from point sources, and reduced pollution in the Great Lakes.

"But improvements have slowed," the report says. Energy use in the U.S. and Canada grew 31% between 1972 and 1997. Progress in fuel efficiency has been offset by increases in the number of automobiles and miles traveled and a trend since 1984 toward less fuel-efficient passenger vehicles. "In 1997, the U.S. transport sector accounted for more than one-third of total world transportation energy use," the report says.

The U.S. and Canada need more fuel-efficient technologies for autos, changes in urban development strategies to curb sprawl, and investment in public transport, the report says. "Decisionmakers need the political will to introduce improvements," it concludes.-


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