US Not Doing Enough|to Meet Emissions Goal

     (CN) – Two scientists with the federal government say the United States must do more to drastically reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases or it will fall short of goals established under last year’s Paris Agreement.
     If the United States maintains course, it will only reach about 4/5 of its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
     Two scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab estimate the nation will have to reduce its annuals emissions by about 1,660 million tons in order to meet its goal.
     The team reviewed all types of greenhouse gases, including methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and various fluorocarbons — compounds formed by replacing one or more hydrogen atoms in a hydrocarbon with fluorine atoms. Examples of chlorofluorocarbons include Freon and propellants.
     However, the scientists also noted that the statistics have large margins of errors, which could lead to the actual figure being plus or minus hundreds of millions of tons.
     “We can’t get there with our current set of policies,” lead author Jeffrey Greenblatt told the Associated Press. “We would fall short of the target if there is no further action.”
     Greenblatt explained that the United States can still reach its goal; it just has to do more, which the authors believe is doable. Greenblatt said he was optimistic that more action could lead the United States to come close to, if not meet, the 26 percent goal.
     Along with colleague Max Wei, Greenblatt found the biggest reduction calculated would come from the Obama administration’s clean-power plan, which would cut carbon pollution from power plants — mostly coal. However, the plan is on hold in the courts, and if it doesn’t go into effect the United States has another hurdle to reach its Paris goal, Greenblatt said.
     Republicans, including presidential nominee Donald Trump, have promised to repeal Obama’s clean-energy plan if they win the White House.
     The team said that meeting the goal would require a combination of policy changes, as opposed to one large adjustment.
     “I think it’s going to be a variety of smallish efforts to get there,” Greenblatt said.
     Greenblatt’s conclusions are also less optimistic than conclusions reached by others, in part due to his inclusion of all greenhouse gases rather than just carbon dioxide, which has fallen dramatically due to a shift from coal power to natural gas for electricity thanks to lower gas prices.
     Six experts not involved in the study said the conclusions are both correct and not surprising.
     Even if the courts uphold the Obama power plan, any deals will likely make it harder for the United States to meet its goal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology management professor John Sterman told the Associated Press in an email. The low cost of gasoline may be prompting more driving, making it harder to reduce pollution.
     “The U.S., states and cities will need to adopt more ambitious policies, and soon, to be able to fulfill our commitment under the Paris agreement,” Sterman wrote. “To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, the U.S. and all nations must cut emissions sooner and by more than called for under the Paris agreement. There’s simply no time to lose.”

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