New research has found that the US is on course to miss the emissions reductions targets agreed to just nine months prior in the Paris climate accord. The US is projected to fall short of its 2025 target for emissions by nearly 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases, even if it introduces emissions reduction programs which have yet to become a reality. If the US fails to meet these targets, which seems likely, the consequences could be far ranging. The US is historically the world’s primary emitter of greenhouse gases, and if it is unable to meet these targets, the high temperatures, sea level rise, and other weather changes that come with climate change are likely to become even worse.
Furthermore, the US’s attempt to stand as an example for the rest of the world regarding these reforms would certainly be considered in jeopardy. The lead author of the study, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Jeffery Greenblatt, outlines the problem:
“If the policies were locked today, there would be a low likelihood of meeting the target, I wouldn’t disparage the US’s efforts so far, but we need to do more as a nation and globally to reduce emissions. However we splice it, that’s hard to do. We can’t make small alterations to our economy – we need fundamental changes in how we get and use energy.”
With Donald Trump and other right wing elements finding serious tractuon, putting even those basic policies in place seems unlikely.
The US had pledged to lower emissions by 26 to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2025.
After the Paris Accord was reached, President Obama praised the US as “the global leader in fighting climate change”. However, the new study found that even with Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan in place, the US could miss its targets by as much as 2 billion tons of greenhouse gases. Even counting all currently proposed emissions reforms, some of which are not likely to pass, the US would still be projected to miss these targets by half a billion to a billion tons.
In theory, the US still has the chance to make up for lost time when it comes to emissions. However, the study comes at a time when a popular nominee of one of two major parties has called climate change “a hoax.”
Whether it’s possible for the US to meet the 2025 targets will depend greatly on the results of November’s election.