Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump Repeal of Climate Rules Means U.S. Paris Target Now Out of Reach

The U.S. would have had to ramp up its climate ambitions to help slow global warming to the 2 degrees C goal, but under Trump, it's going in the opposite direction.

President Trump may not have waved goodbye formally to the Paris agreement, but his policies are keeping the U.S. from meeting its goals. (Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts) Click to Enlarge.
Whether the U.S. meets its emissions-reduction commitments under the Paris climate accord is pivotal to the success of the global agreement, but the Trump administration's policies have all but ensured the U.S. will fall far short.  One recent analysis says the country will miss its target by more than 1 billion metric tons.

Under President Barack Obama, the United States pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.  That means emissions must be cut about 1.7 billion metric tons, according to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency's latest greenhouse gas inventory.  The nation is a third of the way to that target, but the rest was to be achieved via an array of regulations, especially the Clean Power Plan, that are now targeted for elimination by President Donald Trump.  Not only was the goal dependent on those rules, it would have also required even more rigorous policies from Obama's successor because reductions from those rules would not have been enough, numerous studies have found.

David Bookbinder, a longtime environmental lawyer and a fellow at the libertarian think tank the Niskanen Center, released a new analysis that puts the shortfall at 1 billion metric tons if Trump succeeds in undoing most of the Obama-era climate rules.  Meaning, emissions from the world's second-largest carbon polluter would be virtually unchanged from today.  That would jeopardize any chance the world has to set a course of deep and rapid decarbonization over the next critical few years.

"There were people at the [EPA] hard at work on 2.0 [of climate policy], and they were going to ratchet it up, and it was going to be justified by Paris.  It all would have worked, except for that whole election thing," Bookbinder said.  "Now, it's all over...We're at square zero."

InsideClimate News compiled a chart showing exactly how far the United States still has to go to meet its Paris pledge.  We discovered that the U.S. has already achieved an emissions reduction of 572 million metric tons, a third of the Paris target.  That was largely the result of coal being driven out of the market under competitive pressure from natural gas and renewables, greater efficiency throughout the economy and a broad range of regulations.  Most of the remaining two-thirds counted on the Clean Power Plan and other Obama-era rules. Even if those were implemented, the chart shows, the U.S would still fall 17 percent short of meeting its Paris pledge.

Read more at Trump Repeal of Climate Rules Means U.S. Paris Target Now Out of Reach

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