The White House is considering a commitment to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the end of the decade, according to people familiar with the discussions, a target that would nearly double the previous commitment. and requires significant changes in electricity, transportation and other fields.
The emissions reduction target, still under development and subject to change, is part of the White House’s effort to encourage action around the world to keep the global average temperature from rising by more than 1.5. degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) compared to pre-industrial levels, according to the people. The Joe Biden administration is expected to announce the goal ahead of a climate summit later this month.
According to a person familiar with these discussions, the targets being discussed for the US commitment include a 48% to 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. One person another said the administration, urged by environmentalists, is considering an even stronger 53% decline. Both ask not to be named in the description of private communications.
The White House declined to comment on specific numbers, but one official said the administration plans to reach its “all-government” target, with agencies considering opportunities throughout the federal government on standards setting, investment in clean energy and resilient infrastructure plans.
By comparison, under former President Barack Obama, the United States has promised to reduce planetary warming emissions from 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The parties to the Paris climate agreement 2015 is expected to reconnect in November in Scotland and pledge to cut it until 2030.
The administration is on a positive note as it seeks to rebuild trust with wary states after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris deal and removed key domestic policies to promote his to cut emissions as promised by the country.
“Countries around the world are figuring out what the US is going to do with this and whether it comes with something,” said David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute. It is both ambitious and reliable. “Other countries in the international community as a whole are looking to see if this can be something that can fly and will continue to transcend any particular political moment in time.”
Cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half will require broad action to curb heating pollution on the planet from power plants, cars, and oil wells. and agriculture.
According to Amanda Levin, the US currently receives about 40% of its electricity from nuclear and renewable energy, but will have to double its carbon-free electricity to 80% by 2030 to put the country on the path. limit emissions enough to achieve that new goal. , a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The United States will also need to actively convert more economies to electricity, especially cars, while improving efficiency and reducing energy waste at all levels. Those efforts are key, but will happen more slowly than the power sector transition that is already well underway.
Environmentalists are lobbying the White House to make a clear commitment to reducing methane emissions by 40%, a particularly strong short-lived greenhouse gas.
Simply finding and fixing a methane leak at oil and gas facilities could allow the U.S. to cut emissions by the equivalent of bringing 140, said Sarah Smith of Clean Air Force Task Force. million gas-powered cars out of the way.
According to government data, the US is on track to reach its Obama era target, having reduced emissions 14% lower than 2005 levels in 2019. The decline is even more pronounced in 2020 – lower. 23.8% of the 2005 level – but only when pandemic-related quarantines prompted a significant decrease in air and land travel.
When the Paris climate agreement was signed, countries pledged to try to keep global warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). But researchers now believe a 1.5 degree limit is needed to avoid some of the most dire consequences of climate change.
The US is working hard to “keep our common goal of warming 1.5 degrees on the table, to keep it alive, something we can still achieve,” said John Kerry, special envoy for climate president, speaking at a climate justice conference on Thursday.
Rachel Cleetus, director of climate and energy policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said a strong goal would help underline the United States’ commitment to combating climate change while encouraging Strong movement from other countries.
“America has a lot of grounds to catch up, so the first business imperative is to put a strong number on the scale, which can also help drive ambitions higher,” Cleetus said. .
Key environmental groups have joined together to reduce emissions by 50%. Mark Brownstein, senior vice president for energy at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that number is at a high when both ambitious and achievable, said Mark Brownstein, senior vice president of energy at The Environmental Defense Fund, made it the case that it hit its 50% target in a 32-page report it provided the government last month.
“Coming to a low number simply because you know you can get it is not a leadership position if it doesn’t meet the urgency of timing, but pushes yourself to respond to the urgency. of the moment with a series of commitments no one will trust. Brownstein says.
Environmental activists and analysts have released a series of reports in recent months outlining how potential a mix of regulations, clean energy incentives and voluntary action could help cut. halving US emissions by 2030.
This number is expected to be announced by the Biden administration ahead of the April 22-23 climate summit hosted by the White House. The White House has invited leaders of 40 countries, including some of the biggest polluters and smaller, less richer countries that are particularly vulnerable to changes brought about by planet warming. .
“The entire environmental community has united behind 50%,” said Levin, with the Council for the Protection of Natural Resources. “If it’s a range, we want the lows to start at 50%.”
However, the US 50% cut is slower than the commitment of the UK and the European Union, which pledged to cut 68% and 55% of their 1990 emissions by 2030, respectively.
It also fails to do what some activists think the United States should do, given its longstanding status as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases. To make a fair contribution to the global effort, the US should cut its own emissions by at least 70% by 2030 and double that level with hundreds of billions of dollars in climate finance, the recommendation on Friday from Friends of the Earth, ActionAid USA and groups.
Gustavo De Vivero, climate policy analyst at the New Climate Institute, at the Institute for Climate Action, said America’s pledge to cut emissions in half would not be enough to put the world on a dead end. Moderate warming to 1.5 degrees. .
To get there, the US will need to limit emissions from 57% to 63%, the German group said last month. “If 50% is the highest level of ambition, it’s not high enough,” says De Vivero.
(Content updated with Kerry’s comment in paragraph 15 and new recommendations from the environmental groups in paragraph four from bottom up.)
-With support from Jessica Shankleman and Jennifer Epstein.