The US Needs to do More if it is to Reduce Emissions by 50% by 2030

In the past ten years, both climate action and policy have been turbulent within the United States. From exiting the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 to re-entering under the Biden administration, it is challenging to guess which way the United States may go when addressing Climate Change in the near future. In August of 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was a huge win for beginning to address the climate crisis. Many commenters saw it as a significant piece of legislation to address climate change in the US.

While the IRA helps get the US closer on track, that alone will not reach the commitments made to the 2030 goals. The United States still has seven years in order to reach those goals, but time is running out. If robust legislation is made to reduce emissions similar to the IRA further, then the US may come close to reaching its 2030 goal. According to the Rhodium Group, based on their preliminary economic and energy data, they noted a rise in greenhouse gases (GHG) of 1.3% in 2022. In a time when emissions need to be falling, a continuation of rising emissions to pre-pandemic levels does not provide confidence.  The energy sector was the only area that saw a 1% reduction in emissions in 2022, while all other sectors continued to see an increase.

It is challenging to say whether the IRA will affect emissions in the coming years as it was passed towards the end of 2022. As the Rhodium Group points out, even more, aggressive policies are needed in order to reach a 50-52% reduction of 2005 standards by 2030. In order to reduce emissions across industries and sectors, both the public and private sectors must work together.

The development in the use of renewable energy that has happened throughout 2022 has been impressive. For the first time, renewable energy generation surpassed coal. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. electricity generation has been growing since 2021, when it was at 20% of total energy output. Since then, renewable energy has grown to 22% in 2022 and is expected to increase to 24% in 2023. This trend will continue to help reduce emissions, which will help get closer to the United States’ commitment to its climate goals. However, this will not be enough.

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA)

So far, the most critical policy the government has in place is the IRA. If the US will meet its commitments by 2030, more will need to be done. With the turbulent political atmosphere, common environmental progress, and rollbacks, hope for bipartisan support for climate legislation may be premature. We will also have to wait and see how the IRA affects emissions over time before we know for certain. While the emission reduction targets are consistent with 2°C of warming, it is not consistent with the new IPCC goal of  1.5°C, and the US will need to do more to reduce emissions.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard US Country Manager Dave Schroeder


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