This working paper examines where greenhouse gas emissions are headed if the United States does not take any new action to curb their release, how it can meet its 2025 emissions target using existing authorities and state action, and how legislation can achieve deeper cuts over the longer term while still growing the economy.

Key Findings

  • Emission reductions of 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 are achievable, provided the administration takes a comprehensive approach to strengthening current and proposed policies, fully implements the Clean Power Plan and takes new actions using existing authority to curb emission sources that are not yet addressed

  • The power sector presents the greatest opportunity for emission reductions. If the Clean Power Plan was further strengthened or the cost of renewable energy continues to rapidly decline, the United States could reduce its total emissions even further—by as much as 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

  • Other sectors with large opportunities for emission reductions include HFCs (which are used as refrigerants and aerosols that significantly contribute to global warming), industry and natural gas systems.

  • Over the longer term, Congressional action will be essential to achieve deeper reductions and drive technological innovation.

  • With a national carbon price and additional GHG-cutting measures across the economy, the United States can reduce its GHG emissions 40-42 percent below 2005 levels in 2030, and 50-53 percent in 2040, putting itself on a pathway to even deeper cuts in the longer term, while also growing the economy and, in some cases, lowering energy bills for households and businesses.

  • Additional actions and legislation could expand the United States’ research, development, and deployment programs to spur the adoption of next-generation technologies. This will not only help bring next generation technologies to market, drive costs down through learning-by-doing and help overcome other barriers, but also help the United States remain a world leader of innovation.