Volume 93 Issue 14 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 6, 2015 | Web Date: April 3, 2015

U.S. Sets Emission Targets In Preparation For Climate Change Talks

Negotiations: Obama Administration proposes up to 26% cut in emissions by 2025 based on 2005 levels
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Sustainability, Climate Change
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: climate change, U.S. climate policy, Paris climate talks, Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, Lamar Smith, short-lived climate pollutants

The Obama Administration this week committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 in preparation for upcoming international climate talks in Paris. The announcement in part is aimed at spurring other governments involved in ongoing United Nations talks on a new climate treaty to unveil their emissions targets.

White House and State Department officials say EPA’s controversial proposal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants as well as ongoing federal efforts are all that’s needed to meet the new commitment.

But the independent European-based science and policy group Climate Action Tracker says the U.S. will need to take additional steps to meet the Administration’s new goal. The organization estimates that if EPA’s power plant regulations survive attacks in Congress and federal court, the U.S. will reach emissions levels of greenhouse gases equivalent to 6.86 billion to 6.96 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2025. That would be about 5% below 2005 levels.

Some experts say a crucial component of the White House plan is its ongoing effort to cut releases of short-lived climate pollutants. “The U.S. inclusion of methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and other short-lived climate pollutants in its announcement is a clear signal that climate protection cannot succeed from CO2 reductions alone,” says Paul Bledsoe, a former climate adviser for the Clinton Adminstration.

The White House’s climate change efforts continue to draw congressional criticism. “This plan may benefit the United Nations, but it doesn’t benefit the United States,” says Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House of Representatives Science, Space & Technology Committee.

 
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