This report is in the form of memos from Climate Scorecard Country Managers to Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC). Below is a description of the progress the country has made made in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and the challenges they still face in order to comply with the IPCC goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
To: Patricia Espinosa
Subject: Climate Scorecard Progress Report for the Unites States of America
From: Ron Israel
Executive Director, The Global Citizens’ Initiative & Climate Scorecard
I serve as the Executive Director for the Global Citizens’ Initiative, overseeing the Climate Scorecard project. I would like to offer you the following climate mitigation progress report from the perspective of my organization.
Since its initial 2015 pledge to the Paris Agreement, the United States has made little progress in meeting the goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
On the positive side, in the last year, the United States has rejoined the Paris Agreement and accomplished the following progress, after a four-year period of inaction:
- Established four organizations to help coordinate strong climate policies and programs:
- the Climate Policy Office, which implements the country’s domestic climate agenda and coordinates the all-of-government approach to tackle climate change;
- the National Climate Task Force, which gathers members from all federal agencies, as well as senior government officials, to mobilize every agency to prioritize acting on climate change throughout the entire federal government;
- the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), which will bring greater visibility to environmental justice issues across the government and conduct monitoring, enforcement and advisory in areas such as climate mitigation, adaptation, and clean energy transition; and
- the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, which seeks to revitalize the economies of coal and powerplant communities across the country as the shift is made to cleaner energy production.
- Ensured that all federal agencies and departments identify and take steps to cease government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. See the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
- Suspended oil and gas drilling leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reversing what was lauded as an economic achievement of the Trump Presidency.
- Revoked permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pose threats to the natural environment and many communities in both Canada and the United States.
- Passed a $1 trillion Infrastructure Bill (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), which aims to catalyze the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and update the country’s infrastructure. The Act focuses spending on transit, pollution clean-up and the upgrading of infrastructure, with a view to preparing for the impacts of climate change such as increased wildfires, storms and flooding.
In addition, the federal government has introduced two pieces of legislation (the American Jobs Plan and the Biden Administration’s federal spending bill) that would further help in the fight against climate change, which have not yet been passed by Congress.
- If passed, the American Jobs Plan could assist in mitigating climate change by increasing reliance on clean power, electrifying vehicles, retrofitting buildings to be greener, encouraging cleaner manufacturing, as well as protecting and restoring America’s nature-based infrastructure.
- If passed, Biden’s proposed budget could assist in the fight against climate change by providing $36 billion towards areas such as clean energy innovation, research, retrofitting homes and federal buildings, and water infrastructure.
The Biden Administration has proposed measures to tackle each of the country’s key sectoral emissions, including transportation, the energy sector, industry, and agriculture. However, it remains to be seen whether these measures will be implemented, as the rely on the approval of Congress. If the pending American Jobs Plan and proposed federal budget are passed, the United States could be on its way to achieving the important goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030, barring any policy rollbacks before that time. However, if some measures proposed in the legislation are abandoned, those abandonments will stand in the way of achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement.
One key roadblock facing the United States is the current opposition party’s resistance to shrinking the fossil fuel industry. While members of the Republican party have begun to acknowledge that the threat of climate change is real, that shift has not been reflected in the party’s stance on fossil fuels. In particular, the members of the party cite loss of employment and higher taxes as reasons to resist the shift.
Climate Scorecard is committed to working with other like-minded organizations to support efforts by the United States to make further progress in its effort to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and help reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this report or would like any further information.