Analysis finds US on track to cut emissions 24-35% by 2030 – far short of Biden’s climate goal

The US has pledged to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half by the end of the decade, from 2005 levels

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent, New York
Friday 15 July 2022 02:28 BST
New research has shown that the US is far off track in its 2030 climate target
New research has shown that the US is far off track in its 2030 climate target (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The United States is on track to reduce its carbon footprint by 24-35 per cent by 2030 – significantly short of President Joe Biden’s goal, and the country’s promise under the global Paris Agreement.

The US has pledged to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half by the end of the decade, from 2005 levels.

The new independent assessment, from the influential thinktank Rhodium Group, revealed that while the outlook had improved since last year, the emissions cut still fell far short.

Additionally, the group noted that the change was largely down to slowing economic growth around the world and higher fossil fuel prices – not because of government policy to tackle the climate crisis.

“Even by 2035, GHG emissions remain stubbornly high at 26- 41 per cent below 2005 levels,” the analysts wrote.

The report also looked at what was going on in different sectors. Among the findings was that while emissions from coal, oil and gas in the power sector are in decline generally, gas and renewable prices have a major impact on the 2035 outcome. Improvements in fuel economy and rising electric vehicle sales will cut emissions in transport.

The analysis took into account the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in November 2021, along with new federal emissions and fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles, and updates to state policies on renewables.

Overall, however, US climate policy has stalled in the past year as Congress has failed to pass a robust climate and social justice package.

Without a single Republican in support of meaningful legislation to tackle the climate crisis, senior Democrats have been locked in negotiations with party centrist Senator Joe Manchin, who doomed President Joe Biden’s expansive Build Back Better bill last year. The spending package was intended to put the US firmly on a path to clean energy and away from coal, oil and gas in order to cut US emissions. Senator Manchin’s vote is crucial in passing the bill in the 50-50 Senate.

The Rhodium analysis also took into account the recent Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v EPA, which limited the power of America’s top environmental regulator to cut emissions.

In a statement to The Independent, a White House official said: “America can, has, and will meet its climate goals. We exceeded the goals set in 2009 in Copenhagen thanks to good policy decisions during the Obama-Biden Administration and critical state and local partners, and likewise today we continue to have multiple viable pathways to achieve President Biden’s 2030 climate targets and beyond. President Biden has and will continue to take action – administrative and legislative – that will accelerate the momentum behind cheaper sources of clean energy.”

The annual "Taking Stock" report looks at key drivers of US emissions — including technology cost and advances in performance, changes in energy markets, policy developments, and expectations for the economy. The estimates do not take into account any future, ambitious policies.

The analysis also incorporates short-term changes such as the war in Ukraine and the impacts of high inflation in a world still recovering from the Covid pandemic.

This article has been updated with White House response

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