The United States of America is committed to reducing its emissions in ways that will keep global warming within the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit. Failure to do so will lead to more extreme weather and other impacts on public health, food security, and national security.
Climate policy is a complex area with multiple sources of obstacles, including interest groups (e.g., electric utilities), partisan differences, and the political economy of environmental regulation. However, federal action to catalyze and encourage local efforts can lead to robust policy through oscillating political cycles at the state and national level.
Climate change is a long-term trend that is altering the global environment. It includes changes in weather patterns and the frequency of extreme events, such as record floods and raging storms. It is also a result of human activities, which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These include emissions from energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use.
As a result of these activities, the Earth has warmed by 1.1degC since 1901. This warming can cause droughts, flooding and other impacts that impact people’s daily lives.
Despite the growing urgency of tackling climate change, climate policy in the United States remains highly polarized. The president and Congress remain committed to climate action, but there are partisan rifts over specific policies, costs and solutions.
A wide range of climate policies are implemented at the state level. They encompass broad-based climate policies such as climate action plans, carbon cap-and-trade and GHG reduction targets; transportation sector policies including low carbon and alternative fuel standards; and electricity sector policies including renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), net metering and decoupling.
These efforts have helped to reduce emissions, though they are not sufficient to meet climate mitigation goals. There is a need for more comprehensive, ambitious and inclusive state climate policy that addresses climate adaptation as well.
The United States is a leader in science, innovation, financial markets and civil society, which can help to attract international support for climate action. It should play a leading role in establishing an emissions-free world economy, but it can only do so if it acts in a credible and ambitious manner.
To help achieve this goal, it is critical to engage the public on climate change in an informed and inclusive way. This can be done through a variety of strategies, including media framing, leveraging the expertise and ambition of ambitious local governments, and partnering with other climate change actors in the U.S.
The United States is a global superpower and second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It should re-establish itself as an important climate diplomacy partner by setting bold, achievable but ambitious emission reduction pledges in the lead up to an international climate conference in November 2018. The United States can then play an active role in helping other nations to achieve those pledges and meet the Paris Agreement goal of net-zero emissions by mid-century.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions are a major contributor to climate change. They are released in different sectors of the economy, including electricity generation, transportation, industry, and residential and commercial buildings.
Electricity generation and transportation are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the United States. These industries need to transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources.
The United States of America is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter and has a higher per capita GHG emissions rate than China.
Emissions from the Electric Power Sector accounted for 24% of the U.S. total in 2020, with the highest percentage attributed to coal-fired power plants. Fossil-fuel generation has a strong negative impact on the environment and is expected to be phased out in the future.
Industrial production is another important source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and includes manufacturing, mining, and oil and gas extraction. This sector produces goods and raw materials that we use every day, and emits both direct emissions that occur at the facilities themselves as well as indirect emissions associated with their use of electricity.
These emissions are an important contributor to climate change, and the United States should strive to reduce them as much as possible. Several states have adopted comprehensive policies to limit emissions in this sector, such as California’s Global Warming Solutions Act and Massachusetts’ Clean Air Act.
Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted from industrial production in the United States. However, other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide also contribute to climate change.
Although the United States of America has made progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, it still has a long way to go. If the country is to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50-52% below 2005 levels, it will need to take additional steps.
During his term as President of the United States, Barack Obama introduced many new policies that have had a significant impact on the country’s climate policy. These include a national cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the first-ever federal offshore wind energy project in federal waters, and the first 100% sustainable aviation fuel flights from Chicago to Washington D.C. The administration also signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to accelerate the decline in US emissions by lowering prices for carbon-intensive industries and products.
Energy is the lifeblood of our nation. It is a critical component in nearly everything we do: transportation, communication, medical services, food production and heating and cooling homes. Whether we are heating our homes or driving our cars, it is important that energy costs be affordable and predictable.
As a nation, we need to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewables and clean technology. This will require a combination of policies at the federal, state and local level.
The United States is already a leader in developing clean energy technologies and in building a green economy. However, there is much more work to be done.
A national energy policy that is focused on a transition to a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable energy supply can help the United States meet its climate goals. In addition, energy efficiency standards and conservation measures can reduce the need for oil and gas in many sectors.
In order to promote a more environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient transportation sector, the Administration supports increasing the use of renewable fuels for vehicles and enhancing vehicle efficiency and performance. It also supports the development of advanced automotive technologies, such as fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles.
President Bush is also supportive of increased tax credits for electricity produced from renewable sources such as biomass. In particular, he proposes an expansion of the current tax credit of 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour for biomass.
He also encourages the development of facilities that can combine heat and power (CHP) by using thermal waste from electricity production to generate additional energy. This can lessen the amount of oil and coal that is needed to produce electricity, making these facilities more energy efficient.
While the United States is a leader in energy development, there are still a number of areas where we must improve. These include the reliability of our electricity transmission system, pipeline safety, energy infrastructure, and consumer conservation.
Climate adaptation is a key part of the United States of America’s climate policy. This is because while we are trying to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, we are also going to need to adapt to the impact of a changing climate on our lives.
This includes both reducing the impacts of a changing climate and making sure our infrastructure can withstand these changes. For example, we need to be building storm-resistant infrastructure like sea walls and improving agricultural systems that can withstand the weather changes that are already happening.
We also need to be addressing how the climate impacts people on a local level, particularly in poor communities that are most vulnerable to the changes happening on a global scale. These impacts include floods, sea-level rise, heat waves and wildfire.
Luckily, many communities around the world are already taking action to adapt to these changes and build resilience in their own systems. They are doing this by improving their sewage systems, installing more-draining pavements, and putting in better water storage tanks to help avoid flooding.
These types of adaptation efforts are important not just to save money, but also because they can lead to long-term economic benefits as well. For instance, investing in climate-resilient agriculture practices could increase crop yields by up to 50%.
This type of investment can be especially important in rural areas where it can improve the resilience of farming systems by increasing crop yields, improving the health of farm animals, and preserving water resources. This can be accomplished by investing in more renewable energy sources, by implementing conservation practices on farms and by supporting local farmers to use more sustainable farming methods.
Despite the importance of climate adaptation, it has received much less funding than other efforts to fight climate change. According to Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, adaptation should account for half of all climate-related funding worldwide.
This gap reflects both a lack of funding and a lack of institutional support. This has made it difficult to track the progress of adaptation projects and make sure they are achieving their goals. In order to fix this problem, countries and multilateral institutions need to create more institutional monitoring systems. They need to be able to consistently evaluate what works and what doesn’t, so that future projects can be improved.