Spotlight Activity: United States Policy Recommendations
In order to be compliant with a 1.5 degrees Celsius target, the United States needs to reduce its emissions by half by 2030, with the goal of achieving net-zero by 2050. Currently, the U.S. has indicated its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, and has rolled back all federal policy to meet its original targets, therefore leaving its rating at “Critically Insufficient” to meet Paris Agreement pledges.
- End Fossil Fuel Subsidies
The U.S. spends more than $26 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies, which hides the true costs of fossil fuels and fails to account for the negative climate externalities associated with producing, distributing, and burning them for energy. By reducing these subsidies, the market will more accurately reflect these costs, and both producers and consumers will be incentivized to switch to clean energy sources. The money originally reserved for fossil fuel subsidies could then be invested in subsidies for clean energy technology development and distribution, specifically solar PV, CSP, onshore and offshore wind, and geothermal energy. Additionally, the funds could be applied to research and development of carbon sequestration technology and/or reforestation.
This policy would require an overhaul of the federal budget with bipartisan cooperation throughout the executive and legislative branches. Congress and the President would need to sign legislation designating the end of fossil fuel subsidies and the subsequent redirection of the funds to clean energy initiatives.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
This would be an extremely difficult policy to enact as the fossil fuel lobby is powerful and well-funded. While technologically it is the easiest of all the recommended policies to enact, the well-organized opposition from fossil fuel lobbyists reduces political will as members of Congress fear losing campaign contributions or future elections if they do not support the continuation of existing subsidies.
- Reinstate the Clean Power Plan
The United States should reinstate the Clean Power Plan, which required the power sector in the U.S. to reduce its emissions by 32 percent by 2030. Under the new 1.5 degrees C target, the U.S. should expand the Clean Power Plan to require a 50 percent reduction by 2030 and a 100 percent reduction by 2050. The goal of this policy is to federally encourage a shift from coal, oil, and natural gas for energy production to clean energy technology.
This regulation would be enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and would require support from the EPA Administrator as well as the President. The administration should rescind the proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule (which incentivizes the production of energy from coal and is therefore neither “affordable” nor “clean”) and replace it with a reinstatement of the Clean Power Plan, with the increased targets.
Activity Rating **** Moving Forward
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency previously enacted the Clean Power Plan in 2015 with the knowledge that it was possible under modern technological limitations. With the falling costs of renewable energy and increasing scale of its implementation, this policy would be technologically feasible and politically strong.
Reduce Federal Emission Standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should reduce the federal emissions standards for on-road vehicles to require zero emissions by 2050 for all light-duty passenger vehicles. To aid with the transition to electric vehicles, the policy should include subsidies and/or increased tax credits for electric vehicles. This regulation would be enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both of which are responsible for setting vehicular emissions targets.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
Although sales of electric vehicles are rapidly increasing in the U.S., they remain expensive and hold a relatively small market share. With moderately low gas prices, the current incentives for electric vehicles are not strong enough to achieve market saturation. Government and technological intervention is necessary to expand the market, increased demand for EVs, and make them accessible to all income levels.
Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
Dear Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler:
We recommend that the Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with Congress and the Executive Branch, update the greenhouse gas emission pledge of the United States to the Paris Agreement before November 2030. The updated pledge should be aimed at reaching a target of 1761 MT CO2. We recommend that you implement the following policies in order to reach this target:
- End Fossil Fuel Subsidies by 2030
- Reinstate the Clean Power Plan with heightened emissions reduction requirements
- Require net zero emissions from personal vehicles by 2050.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Administrator Andrew Wheeler
William Jefferson Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Mail Code: 1101A
Washington, DC 20460