US needs to take more steps to reduce emissions by 2020 – WRI

7 Feb 2013

The US will not be on track to meet its 2020 goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17pc against 2005 levels without taking action in four key areas, claims a new report from the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The report, Can the U.S. Get There From Here?, looks at steps that President Barack Obama can take to adopt more ambitious climate policies, as well as how US states can reduce emissions without the need for Congressional action.

“President Obama has put tackling climate change high on his agenda. Our analysis shows that with strong leadership and ambitious action, the administration can make a significant dent in US emissions,” said the WRI’s president Dr Andrew Steer.

He said meeting the 17pc target would show that the US is serious about climate change at home, while also enhancing US leadership on the international stage.

This comes in the wake of new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which found that emissions dropped by 13pc in the US in the past five years.

Bloomberg said this was the result of the doubling of renewable energy capacity in the US, natural gas meeting a third of electricity demand and energy efficiency improvements.

The WRI proposes that the Obama Administration takes action in four areas in order for the US to meet its 2020 target of reducing emissions by 17pc from 2005 levels.

This includes implementing strong standards for CO2 pollution from existing power plants and reducing non-energy sources of emissions, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), that are often found in fridges and air conditioning units.

The WRI also proposes limiting methane emissions from natural gas production and increasing energy efficiency from industry and home appliances.

Nicholas Bianco, the lead author of the WRI report, said the best opportunity to reduce emissions is to enact new standards for existing power plants.

In terms of states, the WRI points to how they can take action to supplement federal action. At the moment, 29 US states have renewable energy standards and 20 have energy efficiency standards.

California state, for example, has set a target to generate 33pc of its electricity by renewable sources by 2020.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic