Trump Policies Driving Big Rise in CO2 Emissions, Says Report

11 Janvier, 2019, 03:54 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Rhino in the dust

2018 is an anomaly because each year, since 2015, US carbon emissions had been decreasing, if modestly, as the nation worked to reach its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.

The result is that - despite expansion of solar and wind power and some movement to alternative-fuel vehicles - the USA will have to do even more in the coming years to come close to meeting previous worldwide commitments for greenhouse gas reductions. President Trump has said the US will no longer participate in the Paris accord, promising to withdraw from the plan in 2020.

"We have lost momentum".

The American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying organisation for the US oil and gas industry, says it does not take a position on forming a carbon tax.

A rise in USA emissions in 2018 previously was forecast by EIA in December. Trevor House, a partner at Rhodium, told the Washington Post that the rise likely would not have been as steep if the Trump administration had not rolled back Obama-era pollution controls.

"I don't think you would have seen the same increase", Houser said, referring to the electric power sector in particular.

The group goes on to note that in spite of countless coal-fired power plants being shuttered a year ago, increased natural gas consumption, a booming economy, and a cold winter all played a role in the emissions surge. In the buildings sector, the reports states emissions come from commercial and residential buildings, a result of fuel oil and natural gas from cooking and heating. While the numbers are still preliminary, if they pan out, that would make 2018 the biggest coal plant closure year on record.

Emissions from residential and commercial buildings, which use oil and gas for heating and cooking, rose 10 percent previous year.

President Trump announced in 2017 that the US would leave the agreement, and Rhodium reported the nation was already behind the pace to meet its targets - a 26% to 28% carbon emissions reduction by 2025 - before a year ago.

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Carbon emissions increased 3.4% in 2018, marking the second-largest annual gain in more than two decades, according to preliminary power generation data analyzed by the Rhodium Group, an independent economic policy research provider.

Rising emissions are not just a US problem.

The increase in emissions could be the second-largest in the past 20 years. "Such political developments, including the rollback of domestic climate policies in the USA, tend to have a considerable lead time before you can actually see their reflection in physical emission trends". To do so, the United States would have to cut energy-related carbon emissions by 2.6 per cent on average over the next seven years, a pace more than twice that achieved between 2005 and 2017. These policies alone were not enough - the United States has never been on target to fulfill its Paris promises.

Environmental groups have decried the administration's moves to relax emissions standards.

And last year's spike comes despite a decline in coal-fired power plants; a record number were retired last year, according to the report. He says carbon dioxide emissions are up roughly 3.4 percent over a year ago. And the 14 percent figure has shrunk based on the latest findings.

"What we've seen is backsliding in federal policy, and we're starting to feel the effects of that now", Houser says. They found not only that going beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius would have devastating impacts, but also that the world has only about a decade to make the "unprecedented" changes necessary to hold warming at this level.

The New York-based Rhodium Group, which released its findings on January 8, said its study used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and other sources. The gap is even wider headed into 2019, ' the report said. New research suggests a broader view might be called for.

The report underscores an unusual upside to an economic downturn: When the economy shrinks, greenhouse gas emissions also go down. "If we do get back on track in the United States toward having an energy policy that's consistent with the threat of climate change then we can turn these things around", he says.

"Other countries are going to be looking at the [2020 presidential] campaign", Wirth said. The earliest the administration can leave the accord is after the 2020 presidential election.

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