- The White House has issued a report outlining how the United States could achieve deep decarbonization efforts by 2050, at the same time the nation's commitment to climate change efforts is being questioned worldwide due to a looming Trump presidency.
- The vision, unveiled at the United Nations climate conference in Morocco, shows the United States could reduce its carbon emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050, largely by cutting emissions from the electric generating sector.
- The Los Angeles Times reports the plan calls for doubling clean energy investment, as well as adding 50 million acres of forest for carbon sequestration. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to reassure the conference that the U.S. remains committed to decarbonization.
“No one should doubt the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the United States who know climate change is happening and who are determined to keep our commitments that were made in Paris," Kerry told the United Nations conference to applause. But the reassurance was necessary in the wake of Republican Donald Trump's election, in part fueled by policy proposals that would revitalize the fossil fuels industry.
The report released this week is not a binding policy document, but instead a vision of how the United States could deeply cut its carbon impact if it undertakes an extensive slate of actions. Among them: a focus on energy efficiency, decarbonization of the electric sector, and a shift to renewables an clean energy.
"By 2050, nearly all fossil fuel electricity production can be replaced by low carbon technologies, including renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuels or bioenergy combined with carbon capture, utilization and storage," the report concluded. The report also calls for switching to electricity and other low-carbon fuels in transportation, buildings and industry.
Last year at the Paris climate negotiations last year, almost 200 nations agreed to keep the impact of climate change below 2 degrees Celsius. For the United States, that would mean cutting emissions 26% by 2025. But while the White House's report this week would go far beyond that level, the election of Republican Donald Trump has sent the energy sector scrambling. Trump has vowed to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, while openly denying the concept of human-caused climate change, once calling it a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. Without U.S. leadership, it appears China will lead global guidance on dealing with climate change, as the country rebuked Trump's statements.
While President-elect Trump has indicated he will not attack renewable subsidies, it is also unclear what he plans to do about promises to revitalize the coal sector or whether he will roll back regulations on fossil fuel power plants.
The full report, "The United States Mid-Century Strategy For Deep Decarbonization," is available here.