1. American Pipe Dream

American Pipe Dream

The US’s emission reduction commitments, largely deemed acceptable, may amount to precious little

By: | Published: October 9, 2015 12:20 AM
The US’s emission reduction commitments, largely deemed acceptable, may amount to precious little

The US’s emission reduction commitments, largely deemed acceptable, may amount to precious little

An analysis of the US’s—the world’s second-largest polluter—Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) on cutting emissions by Indian think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) deems those to be “unambitious and inequitous” climate commitments. In fact, as per CSE, the country makes little effort to go off the business-as-usual path, thereby placing the burden of tackling climate change squarely on the shoulders of developing economies like India.

The study finds that the US commitment to cut emissions by 26-28% of its 2005 levels by 2025 effectively translates to a mere 13-15% cut from its 1990 emission levels. This keeps the American per capita emissions in 2025 at 13.5 tonnes. India’s per capita emissions, as per its own INDC, are likely to be a fourth that the same year. CSE also found that US dependence on fossil fuels will remain heavy with slightly over three-quarters of its total primary energy coming from these sources by 2020. Neither is the country working on a nation-wide policy to change its transport policy—86% of its people drive and public transport usage is slipping. While industrial emission has slowed, consumption remains upward bound. This means the US is outsourcing emissions to countries from which it is importing. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) Change adopted the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” for climate action, the US, as the CSE analysis shows, charts a path completely divergent. Whether the Paris talks later this year are guided by the UNFCCC principle or go the way the Cancun and Durban talks in 2010 and 2011, will largely be determined by whether countries like India can bring the focus back on shared sustainability goals.

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