Monday, September 26, 2016

America’s Climate Plan Falls Short of Its Promises

A transition to cleaner alternatives for America's electrical grid will need to accelerate if the nation is to live up to its international obligations. (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The federal government will need to ramp up its fight against climate pollution if it wants to keep a key promise under a United Nations pact, new research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows.

The U.S. pledged during United Nations meetings in France last year to reduce its greenhouse gas pollution by a little more than a quarter in 2025, compared with 2005.  When it comes to living up to this commitment, the research showed current rules and policies alone would be insufficient.

“Federal climate policy is falling short of the United States' pledge in Paris — and not by a small amount,” said Danny Cullenward, a Carnegie Institution for Science researcher who helped the national lab scientists develop their study.

Less than a year after it was negotiated, the Paris Agreement is poised to take effect.  Even if all countries keep all promises made under it, the goal of keeping global warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F) isn’t expected to be achieved.  Efforts are being made to improve national pledges in the years ahead.

The research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change comes one day before the opening of an important chapter in a sprawling court battle that will decide the fate of America’s most important suite of climate change regulations — the Clean Power Plan, affecting power plants.

“I don't envy those planning climate policy,” Cullenward said.  “They’re caught between fierce opposition to the Clean Power Plan and the knowledge that federal climate efforts need redoubling if the U.S. is to fulfill its Paris promise.”

The researchers analyzed federal projections for energy industry changes and the likely effects of climate rules that have been put in place by federal and state agencies.  They projected that greenhouse gas emissions would fall nationwide by the equivalent of 300 million to 350 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2025, compared with 2005.

Living up to America’s new international commitment would require reducing greenhouse gas pollution by about 1,000 million to 2,000 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2025, the researchers calculated.  That means existing climate rules are not enough.

Read more at America’s Climate Plan Falls Short of Its Promises

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