US Climate Goals Ambitious, Maybe Too Ambitious

US Climate Goals Ambitious, Maybe Too Ambitious

About a months ago, US President Barack Obama stated that the country would ratify the Paris agreement, an international agreement that seeks to stop global warming. While the climate goals are noble, many fear the US will not be able to achieve them in a timely fashion.

According to the agreement, the US will have to reduce the levels of greenhouse gas it emits by 26 to 28 percent until 2025. To this end, the government has prepared a series of regulations. But a study published in the Nature Climate Change seems to argue that these regulations will not be enough.

The authors of research, however, still believe there is some hope that the US will reach these climate goals in the allotted time frame. The point of the paper is not to discourage the implementation of these measures, but rather, to keep the country accountable all throughout the process.

The US was one of 200 countries that met in November and reached this common set of climate goals, to stop global warming, and keep its effects in check. The countries hope that they can keep the rise in global temperatures to stay at round 2 degrees above what it had been before the Industrial Revolution.

The plant itself is quite complex, but one of the major focuses is reducing worldwide gas emissions. In the US, the Clean Power Plan, one of the monumental proposals of the Obama administration, is currently stuck in a kind of legal limbo. The plan would drastically cut down gas emission all throughout the country.

There are a number of other, smaller regulation proposals, both at a federal, and a state level. Under the terms of the agreement, all of these regulations are known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs).

The authors of the study mentioned earlier said it was not surprising that all of the measures proposed do not help the country achieve its climate goals.

And they are not the only ones to reach this conclusion. Eight other studies took a look at the US INDICs and found that the measures aren’t really going to cut it, no matter how ambitious they may be.

Climate Goals Might Still Be Achievable

The largest of these studies looked at 17 policies. More than half of these are not in the books yet. These are policies that are still in the draft phase, or policies that are still being analyzed.

Ignoring these incomplete policies, the ones that remain would definitely fall short of the 2025 climate goals. However, even when the authors of the study added these work-in-progress policies, the goals still couldn’t be met.

The last category of policies they looked at was the highly speculative ones. With this category the US could almost, barely achieve the 2025 climate goals.

Part of the problem in determining whether or not the 2025 climate goals are feasible is that it’s very hard to measure the exact impact the policies. There hundreds upon hundreds of bits of data that need careful consideration when trying to make predictions.

Adding these uncertain factors into the mix is what makes the author of the study hopeful. They claimed they didn’t want to make it seem like the situation is hopeless. Because it isn’t.

Image Source: White House