US on track to reduce CO2 emissions even without Paris accord

One of the dirty little secrets of the global warming hysterics who went off the deep end when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate deal is that even without the agreement, the United States will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and meet the voluntary goals set by the accords.

The fact is that the U.S. has been reducing its carbon emissions for more than a decade without government mandates.  The free market has driven industry to find alternatives to coal as it became more expensive.  And the fracking revolution has created a glut of natural gas supplies – a fossil fuel that burns cleaner than coal or oil.

Washington Times:

With the dust of the decision settling, analysts have taken a closer look and say it's still possible, though difficult, for the U.S. to meet the goal of the Paris deal even without being a signatory.

Federal data show the U.S. is already well over one-third of its way toward meeting that pledge, with net emissions in 2015 down more than 11 percent compared with 2005. Even without a comprehensive federal strategy to reduce emissions, other factors could continue the downward trend.

State and local governments are undertaking voluntary pollution-reduction measures to make up for the federal pullback. In some cases, they have specifically adopted policies designed to meet the Paris targets. Leading companies also have redoubled their efforts on energy efficiency and are taking other steps to cut pollution.

Perhaps most important, technological developments or massive economic shifts – such as major steps forward on electric cars and renewable energy storage, and the type of market shift over the past 10 years as utilities abandon coal in favor of cleaner natural gas – could propel the U.S. toward its goal.

"Things can change very rapidly. There is the potential for some technological breakthrough making it easier than we think at the moment," said Kevin Kennedy, deputy director of the U.S. Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute.

As part of the Paris accord, Mr. Obama committed the U.S. to a 2025 target reduction of 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels. That figure was seen as optimistic under even a best-case scenario that involved federal rules such as the Clean Power Plan, a set of government of regulations limiting carbon emissions from power plants and one that Mr. Trump is rolling back.

What's clear, analysts say, is that it's virtually impossible to predict where emissions will go. Even the harshest government policies may not have carried the U.S. to its 26 percent goal.

It's also entirely possible that the U.S. could hit its target with no help at all from the administration.

Although environmentalists were disheartened by the withdrawal from Paris accord, they say that assuming the emissions goal is now unattainable would be foolish.

"I think it would be unfair to say it's completely dead," said Maria Belenky, director of policy and research at Climate Advisers, a policy group that advocates for carbon emissions reductions. "We're not starting from zero. To hit 26 [percent] is enormously hard, but we're going from about 12 percent to 26 percent. It's not easy, but we're not starting from zero."

There is nothing new about this.  In 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, an independent arm of the federal government, determined that CO2 emissions levels had been reduced a whopping 14% since their high in 2007.  Emissions in 2012 were at the same level they were in 1996.

Coincidentally, these were the target levels set by the Kyoto agreement.  The U.S. Senate rejected Kyoto by a 97-0 vote, but the U.S. was the only industrialized country to meet Kyoto's target carbon emissions.

David Victor, an energy expert at UC-San Diego, estimates that the shift from coal to natural gas has reduced U.S. emissions by 400 to 500 megatons CO2 per year. To put that number in perspective, it is about twice the total effect of the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions in the rest of the world, including the European Union.

It is tempting to believe that renewable energy sources are responsible for emissions reductions, but the numbers clearly say otherwise. Accounting for a reduction of 50 Mt of CO2 per year, America's 30,000 wind turbines reduce emissions by just one-10th the amount that natural gas does. Biofuels reduce emissions by only 10 megatons, and solar panels by a paltry three megatons.

This flies in the face of conventional thinking, which continues to claim that mandating carbon reductions – through cap-and-trade or a carbon tax – is the only way to combat climate change.

So not only is all the sturm und drang about the U.S. abandoning the Paris climate agreement much ado about nothing, but our withdrawal has been used as a political club to damage the president.  You won't hear climate hysterics talking about the reduction of emissions in the U.S. without government mandates.  In fact, their rhetoric would have us believe exactly the opposite: that President Trump has doomed the human race to extinction by refusing to follow the carbon schemes of the E.U. and U.N.

A significant part of the reduction in carbon emissions prior to 2012 was the result of the Obama economy, when industrial activity cratered and energy usage fell in tandem with almost nonexistent economic growth.  We've since recovered some ground in the industrial sector, but emissions have remained flat thanks to improved efficiency and cheaper natural gas.

It's amazing what free markets can do when given the chance.

One of the dirty little secrets of the global warming hysterics who went off the deep end when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate deal is that even without the agreement, the United States will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and meet the voluntary goals set by the accords.

The fact is that the U.S. has been reducing its carbon emissions for more than a decade without government mandates.  The free market has driven industry to find alternatives to coal as it became more expensive.  And the fracking revolution has created a glut of natural gas supplies – a fossil fuel that burns cleaner than coal or oil.

Washington Times:

With the dust of the decision settling, analysts have taken a closer look and say it's still possible, though difficult, for the U.S. to meet the goal of the Paris deal even without being a signatory.

Federal data show the U.S. is already well over one-third of its way toward meeting that pledge, with net emissions in 2015 down more than 11 percent compared with 2005. Even without a comprehensive federal strategy to reduce emissions, other factors could continue the downward trend.

State and local governments are undertaking voluntary pollution-reduction measures to make up for the federal pullback. In some cases, they have specifically adopted policies designed to meet the Paris targets. Leading companies also have redoubled their efforts on energy efficiency and are taking other steps to cut pollution.

Perhaps most important, technological developments or massive economic shifts – such as major steps forward on electric cars and renewable energy storage, and the type of market shift over the past 10 years as utilities abandon coal in favor of cleaner natural gas – could propel the U.S. toward its goal.

"Things can change very rapidly. There is the potential for some technological breakthrough making it easier than we think at the moment," said Kevin Kennedy, deputy director of the U.S. Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute.

As part of the Paris accord, Mr. Obama committed the U.S. to a 2025 target reduction of 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels. That figure was seen as optimistic under even a best-case scenario that involved federal rules such as the Clean Power Plan, a set of government of regulations limiting carbon emissions from power plants and one that Mr. Trump is rolling back.

What's clear, analysts say, is that it's virtually impossible to predict where emissions will go. Even the harshest government policies may not have carried the U.S. to its 26 percent goal.

It's also entirely possible that the U.S. could hit its target with no help at all from the administration.

Although environmentalists were disheartened by the withdrawal from Paris accord, they say that assuming the emissions goal is now unattainable would be foolish.

"I think it would be unfair to say it's completely dead," said Maria Belenky, director of policy and research at Climate Advisers, a policy group that advocates for carbon emissions reductions. "We're not starting from zero. To hit 26 [percent] is enormously hard, but we're going from about 12 percent to 26 percent. It's not easy, but we're not starting from zero."

There is nothing new about this.  In 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, an independent arm of the federal government, determined that CO2 emissions levels had been reduced a whopping 14% since their high in 2007.  Emissions in 2012 were at the same level they were in 1996.

Coincidentally, these were the target levels set by the Kyoto agreement.  The U.S. Senate rejected Kyoto by a 97-0 vote, but the U.S. was the only industrialized country to meet Kyoto's target carbon emissions.

David Victor, an energy expert at UC-San Diego, estimates that the shift from coal to natural gas has reduced U.S. emissions by 400 to 500 megatons CO2 per year. To put that number in perspective, it is about twice the total effect of the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions in the rest of the world, including the European Union.

It is tempting to believe that renewable energy sources are responsible for emissions reductions, but the numbers clearly say otherwise. Accounting for a reduction of 50 Mt of CO2 per year, America's 30,000 wind turbines reduce emissions by just one-10th the amount that natural gas does. Biofuels reduce emissions by only 10 megatons, and solar panels by a paltry three megatons.

This flies in the face of conventional thinking, which continues to claim that mandating carbon reductions – through cap-and-trade or a carbon tax – is the only way to combat climate change.

So not only is all the sturm und drang about the U.S. abandoning the Paris climate agreement much ado about nothing, but our withdrawal has been used as a political club to damage the president.  You won't hear climate hysterics talking about the reduction of emissions in the U.S. without government mandates.  In fact, their rhetoric would have us believe exactly the opposite: that President Trump has doomed the human race to extinction by refusing to follow the carbon schemes of the E.U. and U.N.

A significant part of the reduction in carbon emissions prior to 2012 was the result of the Obama economy, when industrial activity cratered and energy usage fell in tandem with almost nonexistent economic growth.  We've since recovered some ground in the industrial sector, but emissions have remained flat thanks to improved efficiency and cheaper natural gas.

It's amazing what free markets can do when given the chance.

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