Three Takeaways from the 2021 U.S. "Nationally Determined Contribution" Under the Paris Agreement
As we approach COP26, the pressure is on to step up efforts to reduce emissions. Here are three takeaways from the 2021 U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution:
1. The U.S. has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030.
The U.S. has set an economy-wide target of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52%. This is a significant step forward, and a step up over the U.S. 2016 commitment, but it will not bring the U.S. in line with the 1.5 degree Celsius target set in the Paris Climate Agreement—this requires an emission target of approx. 57-63% below 2005 levels by 2030.
2. The U.S. is “broadly on track” to achieve 26-28 percent emissions reductions below 2005 levels in 2025.
“Based on preliminary estimates” the U.S. reports that it expects to have “surpassed its 2020 target of net economy-wide emissions reduction in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels and is broadly on track to achieve 26-28 percent emissions reductions below 2005 levels in 2025.” The U.S. commits a “whole-of-government approach on climate action at the federal level”—this is essential if the U.S. is to stay true to its word.
3. The U.S. has set a goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035
A complete switch to carbon pollution-free electricity is a firm step in the right direction, and will also have the added benefit of reducing air and water pollution. The White House has set a goal to rapidly finance and deploy “carbon pollution-free electricity generating resources, transmission, and energy storage and leverage the carbon pollution-free energy potential of power plants retrofitted with carbon capture and existing nuclear” power.
Clear steps have already been taken to incentivize the production and use of electric vehicles. In an August 5, 2021 fact sheet issued by the White House, President Biden has set a “target of 50% electric vehicle sales share in 2030,” has promised “point-of-sale consumer incentives,” and has committed to installing “the first-ever national network of electric vehicle charging stations” across the U.S.
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