Eileen Claussen's Statement on the Need for Stronger Action to Meet Carbon Emissions Goal

Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

December 5, 2012

The latest outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that carbon emissions will fall to 5,455 million metric tons by 2020. Considering the most recent Environmental Protection Agency projections for greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide, we can expect total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to decline a little less than 5 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

That’s a far cry from the 17 percent the United States has pledged to cut to begin addressing the emissions causing our climate to change.

Rosier estimates and statements about the U.S. being ‘on track’ to meet that commitment are based on the assumption that EPA will finalize emissions regulations for existing fossil-fuel power plants. Those regulations are legally required but haven't even been proposed.

It is reasonable to assume that the U.S. will achieve, conservatively, a 10 percent decrease in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2020. This is based on market trends such as low natural gas prices, improvements in energy efficiency, increased vehicle fuel economy standards, and state policies like California’s new cap-and-trade program.

For the U.S. to assert confidently that it is on track to fulfilling President Obama’s 2009 Copenhagen pledge, the administration must move quickly to regulate emissions from existing power plants. To achieve the steeper reductions ultimately needed to avoid the worst potential impacts of climate change will require much stronger action, such as a price on carbon and targeted incentives for critical technologies. This past year of severe storms, record heat, drought and wildfires tells us that much more than U.S. credibility is at stake.

Contact: Laura Rehrmann, 703-516-0621, rehrmannl@c2es.org

About C2ES
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.