Energy & Environment

Biden aims for 50 to 52 percent emissions reduction by 2030

getty: President Biden

President Biden is aiming to reduce the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent when compared to 2005 levels by the year 2030, an interim goal in his quest to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. 

A White House fact sheet announced the much-anticipated goal, which will both guide the next several years of domestic climate policy and send a signal to the rest of the world on how aggressively the U.S. plans to combat climate change. 

The target, called a nationally determined contribution, is being made as part of the Paris Agreement and will be formally submitted to the United Nations. 

The target follows an Obama-era goal of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent by the year 2025 compared to 2005 levels. In 2019, U.S. emissions were 13 percent lower than 2005 levels, according to data recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The fact sheet provides a broad outline as to the kinds of policies the administration is considering for reducing emissions, like reducing tailpipe emissions and increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. But administration officials told reporters that they see multiple pathways to achieve the cuts. 

The announcement comes as Biden is expected to deliver remarks at the White House’s international climate summit featuring 40 heads of state, as well as several administration officials. 

The first session of the two-day summit, at which Biden will speak on Thursday, is titled “Raising Our Climate Ambition,” something the administration has said it will do itself and push other nations to do, as well.  

An administration official said Wednesday that they expect to possibly see action from other countries at the summit. 

It had been reported previously that the White House would aim to at least halve its emissions by 2030, and the target was met with pushback from both the left and right.

Progressives, some of whom called for a reduction of at least 70 percent, argued that it did not go far enough. 

“A pledge to cut emissions 50% by 2030 simply isn’t big enough to meet the massive scale of the climate emergency,” Jean Su, the energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Combatting the climate emergency at home also requires transforming our economy by moving immediately to end the fossil fuel era and create a renewable and anti-racist energy system.”

Republicans, meanwhile, claimed that the cut would make the country less globally competitive. 

“President Biden’s decision to force America back into the Paris Climate Accord and increase our commitments could severely hamper our global competitive edge to the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party, the world’s top carbon polluter,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Ore.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday.

But a number of environmental groups, businesses and European leaders recently called for the U.S. to cut its emissions by at least half, so they’re likely to be pleased with the decision.  

The policies that the fact sheet lays out also include support for efficiency upgrades and electrification in housing, funding for vehicle charging infrastructure and support for the use of carbon capture technology. 

Administration officials told reporters Wednesday that the target was reached through reviewing a range of pathways for each sector that produces greenhouse gases and considering types of standards, incentives and programs as part of a techno-economic analysis. 

Officials also said the administration consulted with stakeholders, including environmental justice leaders, unions, industry leaders and technologists. 

Tags Cathy McMorris Rodgers Climate change Earth Day Joe Biden Paris agreement

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