Despite Trump, U.S. Progressing Toward Obama's Climate Goals

The United States continues to reduce its carbon emissions thanks to surprising increases in renewables and record drops in fossil-fuel use, according to a consortium of research organizations that have tracked each nation's progress since 2009.
The U.S. is now on track to reduce its emissions 11 to 13 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, according to Climate Action Tracker. That's 5 percent better than it predicted a year ago. But because President Trump has abandoned policies designed to reach Obama's Paris Agreement pledge of 26 to 28 percent, the consortium nonetheless rates the country's efforts as "critically insufficient."
"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 percent," the consortium stated Wednesday in a review of U.S. progress.
The review came on the one-year anniversary of Trump's announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Despite Trump's avowed support for fossil fuels, the coal industry is collapsing faster than it was under Obama, and fossil-fuel use has declined at a record pace.
"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."
Former EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe wrote a dizzying summary of U.S. progress "in the spirit of Paris" yesterday on the blog of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions:
Power sector emissions continue to fall, while the nation’s clean energy economy is booming. In the past year, more than half the capacity from utility-scale generation installed in 2017 came from renewables. Now a report from former Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz shows the energy efficiency field is growing at twice the national average, and the solar industry employs more than twice as many people as coal."
Like Persciacepe, the consortium behind Climate Action Tracker contends the saving grace for the United States might be the efforts of states, municipalities and private entities.
"Increased state and local action, in addition to market pressures, may contribute to additional reductions," CAT states in its review of current policy. "A first analysis of recorded and quantified commitments from sub-national and non-state actors in the US suggests that these commitments already take the US halfway to achieving its NDC target."
Current commitments by these sub-national players could bring U.S. emissions down to 12–14 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, CAT states.
Climate Action Tracker is operated by Climate Analytics, a non-profit climate science and policy institute based in Berlin; New Climate Institute, a German non-profit institute established in 2014; and EcoFys, a London-based consultancy and affiliate of Navigant. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research collaborates as a scientific advisor and data provider.
The "critically insufficient" rating means U.S. efforts are likely to result in a world that's 4º C hotter or more.

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