Can the U.S. Meet its Climate Change Goal?
The Obama Administration committed in 2009 to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. While the Administration is not currently on track to meet this goal, it can pursue a suite of policies even without new legislation. If pursued with “go-getter” level ambition, those policies can achieve the 17 percent commitment. Below we look at four possible emissions scenarios. Click through each scenario to learn more. (States can also play a role in achieving the 17 percent target, but these actions are not incorporated into this infographic.)
The U.S. Administration and Congress fail to take any new actions. Emissions slowly rise from current levels, dipping only 5 percent below 2005 levels in 2020 and 0.3 percent below 2005 levels in 2035.
The Administration takes actions of lowest cost or least optimistic technical achievement, reducing emissions 8 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.
The Administration takes actions of moderate cost and moderately optimistic technical achievement. Emissions drop to 12 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.
The most ambitious scenario achievable without new congressional action, representing actions of higher cost or most optimistic technical achievement. Under this scenario the United States can reduce its emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.
The United States must reduce its emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Even under a go-getter scenario, the United States will not be able to meet this goal without new climate change legislation.