The United States Likely to Miss Its Emissions Goals

The United States Likely to Miss Its Emissions Goals

The most important story in recent months regarding international climate policy has been the Paris accord. At last year’s COP21 in Paris, international powers agreed to take steps to fight climate change. The Paris accord was carefully negotiated and its provisions bring necessary changes in environmental policy.

Attention is now focused on how quickly countries can ratify the agreement. Each country has to join the Paris accord individually at home. India recently ratified the agreement. So there is hope that the Paris accord will come into effect before the COP22 this November.

The Paris Accord Pledge

As soon as the agreement is ratified, the focus of the attention will shift. It will be the time to meet those goals set out in the Paris accord. The countries have pledged to limit their emissions to a certain level. They voluntarily made the pledge as a way to counteract the effects of climate change. It remains to be seen whether the countries are on track to meeting their Paris accord goals.

In many situations, ratifying the agreement and getting approval for it at home might prove the easy part. It might be more difficult than that to take the necessary steps to meet the goals of the agreement.

The case of the United States is one of those situations. The US pledged to cut emissions between 26 to 28 percent below the level of emissions of 2005. It has pledged to do this by the year 2025. In order for this to happen, many steps need to be taken. This ambitious goal relies on a series of policies that still have to be enacted. One of them is the Clean Power Plan, that has already been contested. Without these policies it is unlikely that the United States can do much to meet the Paris accord goals.

Emissions Goals Look Unrealistic

There have questions about the goal the United States has set and how achievable it is. A new study says that it will be difficult for the country to reach its target. However, it is not impossible for that to happen.

The study was elaborated by Max Wei and Jeffery Greenblatt from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. They looked at current as well as proposed policies for climate that the United States either has in effect or is considering putting in place. They concluded that the US needs to do more than what policymakers are looking at right now. Otherwise, emissions will not go down as low as it is desired.

Policymakers say that the way to cutting down emissions is through new policies for the environment and more efficiency.  Passing the Clean Power Plan is one way, improving the efficiency of trucks is another way. All these changes cumulated are going to add up to the lowering of emissions that the US is targeting.

Greenblatt and Wei calculated the level of emissions for 2005 and then calculated how much the reduction in emissions needs to be. It looks like the reduction is a lot more than what these new policies can bring about.


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