The US has a long way to go to catch up on its share of the climate crisis


The US plans to officially strengthen its climate commitments tomorrow, but many proponents are skeptical that it will be ambitious enough to offset the country’s inordinate role in creating the climate crisis.

Biden is expect to commit the US to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least half from what they were in 2005. That is already a significant increase from the trajectory the US had previously traveled. (Barack Obama committed the US to a cut of about 27 percent by 2025.) But there is still a bit of a discrepancy between what the US is willing to commit and what some say it owes to the rest of the world .

“There is in my mind no possible ethical story in which the United States no longer does,” said Tom Athanasiou, executive director of the activist think tank EcoEquity.

Two specific goals have emerged as an appealing call since a milestone at the United Nations 2018 report Plot routes to achieve the Paris targets: Global emissions should be net zero by 2050 and fall by about half from 2010 levels this decade (although the United Nations report has a baseline of 2010). used to reduce pollution, different countries use different years. The US uses 2005, around the time when emissions peak.) Biden has been talking about achieving that 2050 goal domestically since he was on the campaign trail. Since then hundreds of companies and a few mainstream environmental groups have called him also commit to the 2030 target.

But others say that goal falls short and that the US should do a lot more because of the amount of pollution from fossil fuels. China is currently the country that emits the most carbon dioxide emissions every year, so it also has a lot of responsibility. But cumulatively, the US has been almost pumped out twice as much carbon dioxide like China since 1750. Even today, the US is modern emissions per capita are more than double that of China.

That is why Athanasiou and the Climate Action Network of which he is a part say that the US “fair shareThe work to tackle the climate crisis far exceeds the 50 percent target for this decade. ‘If there is a global average number and you are doing something fair, then the United States should do more than the global average. End of story, ”he says.

They are asking the US to cut its emissions by 70 percent. The Climate Action Network also says the US has the responsibility and financial capacity to help developing countries with their emission reductions.

Another independent analysis found that if Biden is to achieve his net zero emissions ambition by 2050 and help the rest of the world do the same, he needs to raise the bar. According to the analysis of the nonprofits NewClimate Institute and Climate Analytics, the US should reduce pollution by 57 to 63 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. should support.

So far, the US appears to be falling short when it comes to investment in reducing pollution elsewhere. An important part of the Paris Agreement is a Green Climate Fund set up to help developing countries transition to clean energy. The Obama administration has pledged $ 3 billion to the fund, but was only able to meet it about $ 1 billion. Donald Trump then withdrew the US from the agreement, relinquishing the remaining funds. When Biden brought the US back to Paris, many thought he would go ahead – and maybe even put down more money. But they were disappointed earlier this month when the president budget proposal just an additional $ 1.2 billion for the fund – not even enough to make up for what Trump had previously reversed.

The US has a long way to go to show the world that it is really serious to tackle the crisis again. When the US helped negotiate the Paris climate accord in 2015, it pledged, along with all the other signatories, that it would make even more ambitious commitments to tackle climate change in five years’ time.

Those five years are over. Now the world is staggering closer and closer to the catastrophe: it is already heating up 1.2 degrees Celsius, close to the 1.5 degree threshold that the Paris Agreement hoped to avoid. That is why people all over the world are holding their breath to learn about the new obligations of governments. Of the nearly 200 countries that have signed the agreement, there are some 80 have already been submitted their homework. In particular, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the US, have not done so.

“A lot of countries around the world hiding a little bit and saying, ‘Okay, we’re not moving forward because we don’t see the big economies moving forward,'” said Gustavo de Vivero, a climate policy analyst at the NewClimate Institute and one of the authors. from his recent analysis. ‘It is extremely important [that the Biden administration] show commitment, show that it is possible to go as high as possible. “