US climate policy: one year on from the announcement of Paris Agreement withdrawal

May 30, 2018 – One year ago this week (June 1 2017), President Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  The Climate Action Tracker has recently updated its assessment of US climate action, and has found the following:

  • Despite efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back climate policies, renewable energy from wind and solar is still developing so fast that the CAT had to revise its projections for US emissions in 2030 downwards by 5%. US emissions projections decrease slightly through the early 2020s and then level off in 2030.
  • In 2017, fossil fuel-fired electricity generation experienced its steepest year-on-year decline since the 2008 financial crisis, as wind and solar reached record shares in the electricity mix, and 6.3 GW of coal-fired capacity was shut down, despite the Trump Administration’s attempts to boost coal.
  • Current US policies are projected to reduce emissions by 11–13% below 2005 levels by 2025—only half of the reductions in the US’s Paris Agreement pledge.
  • The CAT rates the US NDC (because of the announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement) as “Critically Insufficient” and its policies as “Highly Insufficient”

“While continued coal use is still firmly in the sights of the US Administration, the reality on the ground is renewables: there are clear signs from on the ground that renewable energy is taking over due to cost-competitiveness, and is highly likely to continue doing so” – Bill Hare, CEO, Climate Analytics.

  • All eyes remain on the “We Are Still In” campaign where at least 21 States have emissions reduction targets.  The full implementation of current recorded and quantifiable non-federal climate commitments could take the US halfway toward meeting its NDC commitments.

“If developments on renewables continue as positively as in the past, and new commitments by US states, cities and businesses are implemented, the USA could still meet its Paris commitment,”  – Prof.  Niklas Höhne, NewClimate Institute.

  • However, the Federal outlook on climate action has not improved, given a raft of rollbacks by the Trump Administration, including:
    • the increase in tariffs on imported solar cells,
    • the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s consideration of a new and weaker rule to replace the Clean Power Plan,
    • its plan to weaken fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks,
    • the Bureau of Land Management’s delay to key requirements to reduce methane from oil and gas production, and
    • the Department of Interior’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas exploration.

“We cannot yet quantify the impact of all of these rollbacks, and many of them are now under legal challenge, such as the State of California and others opposing the proposed weakening of fuel efficiency standards.” – Yvonne Deng, Ecofys, a Navigant Company.

Climate Action Tracker US Assessment:

http://www.climateactiontracker.org