- North Carolina State University researchers have examined the impact of President Trump's rollback of climate and environmental protections, and concluded that in the near term greenhouse gas emissions are likely to remain stable.
- Study author Christopher Galik, an associate professor in NCSU's Department of Public Administration, says the results shows how the market has embraced low-carbon solutions and how little impact limited federal actions have in the field.
- After campaigning on reviving the coal sector and boosting American energy production, President Trump pulled the United States out of the United Nations Paris climate accord. Signed by 195 nations at the end of 2015, the accord aims to limit global warming to 2°C this century and would have meant an 80% economywide decarbonization for the U.S. by 2050.
North Carolina State University Researchers make an interesting assumption in their recent paper, “Evaluating the U.S. mid-century strategy for deep decarbonization amidst early century uncertainty."
Supposing that U.S. emissions remain flat throughout Trump's administration "and that reductions resume afterwards to meet the Obama administration mid-century targets in 2050," the pause in climate policy means a difference in total emissions equivalent to about 100 to 200 days of additional global greenhouse gas pollution.
That, of course, depends "on the number of terms served by a Trump administration."
The paper was published online in the journal Climate Policy.
In an interview wih the university, Galik said the report compared statements and policy directives from the Trump administration with a report issued in the final days of the Obama administration called "Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization."
Looking at climate change measures in five sectors (electricity, transportation, land use, built environment, and non-carbon dioxide emissions), researchers concluded emissions would remain flat in the near term.
"Part of this is because broader market trends are pushing towards a lower-carbon portfolio, and part of this is because the federal government exerts less control on what actually transpires on the ground," Galik said. "Collectively, this suggests that a reasonable trajectory for GHG emissions is one that remains relatively stable in the near-term."
This stable outlook in the near term would act to put the U.S. further behind global efforts to limit warming to two degrees Celsius this century.
Last year, Oxford researchers forecasted that if the world wants to hit the two degree goal, “no new investment in fossil electricity infrastructure (without carbon capture) is feasible from 2017 at the latest." And recent analysis of national climate goals finds no large industrialized economies are on track to meet the Paris accord.
Even if emitting resources were drawn down quickly worldwide, the persistence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would continue to warm the planet for some time — a concept known as "committed warming."
“This energy imbalance means even if CO2 stayed where it is today … the temperature would continue to rise for a long time because it takes a long time to warm the deep ocean especially,” David Archer, a climate scientist at the University of Chicago, told Utility Dive last year. “So we're already over the danger line and we don't have time to [mess] around.”