US to miss Paris climate pact target by a third: report

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Thu, Sep 13, 2018 - Page 7

The US would fall short by a third on its commitment under the Paris climate treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a report released yesterday in San Francisco said.

A crescendo of efforts at the sub-national level by states, cities and business to shrink the nation’s carbon footprint would not fully compensate for US President Donald Trump’s decision to scrap the climate policies of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and promote the use of fossil fuels, it found.

“The Obama target was always going to be a stretch,” co-author Paul Bodnar, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute, told journalists.

“This work shows definitively that states, cities and businesses have the power to bring the nation to the brink of that ambitious target through their own authorities,” he said.

Financed by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Fulfilling America’s Pledge report was released at the start of the three-day Global Climate Action Summit, a gathering of several thousand governors, mayors, business leaders and climate campaigners from around the world.

“Current federal and real economy commitments, combined with market forces, will drive US emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 — roughly two-thirds of the way to the original US target,” the report said.

Under the 196-nation Paris Agreement, the US made a voluntary pledge to cut carbon pollution by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

The 2015 treaty marked the first time that all countries — including emerging giants such as China and India — laid out specific targets for greening their economies.

The new projections are conservative in so far as they assume no help from the federal government over the next six years.

However, even without a Democrat in the White House in 2020, up to 90 percent of US targets could still be met if non-state actors double down on climate action, they found.

On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation committing the state to purging greenhouse gases from its electricity grid by 2045, replaced by energy generated mostly by solar and wind power.

“We all have the opportunity and the obligation to do our part to combat climate change,” he said after signing the bill into law.

The fifth-largest economy in the world, California has also adopted targets that would see its emissions fall at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Trump — who vowed to pull out of the Paris Agreement months after gaining office — wants to relax pollution rules for coal-fired power plants and roll back car-mileage standards, the twin pillars of Obama’s Clean Energy Plan.

He has also challenged the Golden State’s right to set its own vehicle fuel standards.

The transport sector is the single largest source of manmade greenhouse gases in the US.

US mayors, governors and business leaders — under the banner “We Are Still In” — have pushed back by adopting more ambitious targets at the local level.

Taken together, these jurisdictions represent about half of the US economy, the equivalent of the third-largest country in the world, the report said.