Running In Place: Immigration and U.S. Energy Usage (2002)
In December 1997, representatives from over 160 nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate binding limitations on greenhouse gas emissions. The outcome of the conference was the Kyoto Protocol, under which the developed nations agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to levels emitted in 1990. In November 2001, representatives from these countries met in Marrakech, Morocco, to negotiate the details of the Kyoto Protocol. The result of this conference was an agreement by the industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 emission levels between 2008 and 2012.
The United States has so far refused to sign the agreement, but world political pressures appear likely to force the U.S. to undertake efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, within the next few years. Such efforts will be particularly onerous if U.S. population growth, driven by high immigration, continues on its present path.
An examination of the relationship between energy consumption, population growth, and immigration in the U.S. shows the following:
Increased population, not increased consumption, is almost entirely responsible for the one-third increase in U.S. energy usage since 1973.
Immigration is the cause of 40 percent of U.S. population growth in the last quarter century and has been directly responsible for one-third of the increase in energy usage during that period.
Residential energy use has increased by 34 percent since 1973. Almost that entire increase was due to population growth.
The U.S. won’t be able to meet emission-reductions goals unless we slow down immigration-driven population growth. Assuming that U.S. immigration levels continue at their current rate, meeting the Kyoto Protocol goals would require that per capita energy consumption in the year 2012 would have to be reduced by 28 percent from the 2000 level, necessitating major lifestyle changes for Americans and cause serious economic dislocations.
The U.S. will not be able to achieve any meaningful reductions in carbon dioxide emissions without serious economic and social consequences for American citizens if immigration continues at its current levels.
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