By Anders Lorenzen
As the US Special Envoy for Climate Change, John Kerry, recently toured the world to urge nations to step up to adhere to the targets agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, research highlighted that at home the US is far behind on its own targets.
A mountain to climb
A report released earlier this month by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) found that the US needs to slash its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by between 57% and 63% below 2005 levels by 2030 in order to achieve the long-term goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 set out by the Biden administration. The analysis looked at Biden’s plans to decarbonise the electricity sector, commercial buildings, and new vehicle fleets and found that in order to meet its pledges under the Paris Agreement (which had the goal of keeping emissions below 1.5 degrees C) the US needs to cut emissions by at least 57% by the end of the decade.
This comes as the US prepares to announce its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which all countries must do well in advance of COP26 at the end of the year, during a special summit the government will host on the 22nd of April.
Calls to increase reductions this decade
There are calls on the US to reduce emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels this decade by officials in the European Union (EU) and environmental groups. Organisations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the World Resources Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council have called for a 50% reduction target as well.
Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, a co-partner of the CAT with the NewClimate Institute said: “Having the U.S. taking such strong action would reverberate across the world, and result in other countries also stepping up to adopt the kind of targets they need to make global net zero a reality.”
The CAT report did outline that the climate plan put forward by the Biden administration to decarbonise the US electricity sector by 2035 is consistent with a Paris Agreement pathway, but underlined it needs to strengthen plans to slash emissions in buildings and vehicles.
Biden’s climate team is led by John Kerry and National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, and the pair are working with government agencies and meeting utilities and car companies to craft its new goal. Earlier this month Kerry said countries are not doing enough to limit climate change.
President Biden won the 2020 US presidential election by standing on the most ambitious climate platform ever proposed by a US presidential candidate.
Historically the US is the world’s largest emitter.