US emissions of carbon dioxide per person, the primary greenhouse gas, are well below the peak reached in 1979 and remained flat in the 1990s. But emissions overall have grown due to population growth. Today emissions are still growing at about the same rate as population.
The US became a member of the United Nations Climate Treaty (UNFCCC) in 1992. In 1997, the the Kyoto climate treaty was negotiated under UN auspices, but the US did not sign out of concern that the treaty would raise energy prices, eliminate jobs, and would not be effective in achieving the objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This view was expressed by the overwhelming vote of the Senate.
Regarding effectiveness, the major concern of the Senate resolution was that no requirements for greenhouse gas limitations were placed on developing countries. With China predicted to become the highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the near future, the Kyoto exemption of developing countries is a major drawback.
Since that time, a number of proposals have been put forth at the federal and state level for greenhouse gas emission reduction. At the federal level, the McCain-Lieberman bill has received the most attention. More information about these proposals is included on the "Policy and Jobs" page and on "States and CO2 page.
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