On April 22, Earth Day, leaders from countries around the world will attend a grand signing ceremony at the United Nations, officially reaffirming the greenhouse gas reduction pledges they made at last December’s U.N. climate conference in Paris.
Under the Paris Agreement, most major greenhouse gas-emitting countries offered rather timid emissions targets that aligned with existing projections. In contrast, President Obama pledged an aggressive goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025.
That is a promise he cannot keep.
Indeed, in the time since President Obama rallied international support at the Paris conference by extolling the U.S. leadership role in addressing climate change, a confluence of reality checks has revealed much of what he said to have been a grand illusion.
For starters, less than two months after the president told the delegates that “we’ve said yes to the first-ever set of national standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution our power plants can release into the sky,” the Supreme Court said “not so fast.” By issuing a stay on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the Court signaled its concern that the central pillar of Obama’s plan to achieve his promised emissions reduction may not be altogether legal.
The Court’s ultimate decision likely rests with the November election and the subsequent justice appointment. This is expected to delay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan by several years, if not overturn it completely.
Either outcome will be a major blow to the timetable for Obama’s promised emissions reductions. And no one is claiming that the promised target can be achieved without the Clean Power Plan (and then some).
To make matters worse, the EPA has increased its estimate of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and decreased its estimate of recent emissions decline. This not only takes the shine off of Obama’s claim in Paris that “over the last seven years, we’ve made…ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions,” but it also means the road to the president’s target just got a lot steeper. […]
Putting our name on an international agreement we all know is a sham doesn’t bolster efforts to curb climate change. Rather, it casts them as disingenuous. This is something that we should not have to pay for, now, or in the future.