USCAN endorses dual Paris target in which strong support for decarbonization abroad supplements 70% emissions reductions at home by 2030
US Climate Action Network
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2020
CONTACT: Emma Stieglitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, Hunter Cutting, email@example.com
ANALYSIS: The US Climate Fair Share to Limit Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees
[Washington, D.C.] With the expected re-entry of the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement, the Biden administration is required to update the U.S. emission reductions pledge for 2025 by formally submitting a 2030 pledge towards the global effort. To inform this contribution, US Climate Action Network (USCAN) released an analysis of “fair share” country contributions with a particular focus on the United States.
Under this analysis, the U.S. fair share of the global action needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C is the equivalent of reducing U.S. emissions 195% by 2030 (down from 2005 levels). This finding confirms that it is not feasible for the U.S. to deliver its fair share contribution through domestic emissions reductions alone. To assemble this contribution, USCAN endorses U.S. domestic emissions reductions of 70% by 2030, combined with even greater emissions reductions in developing countries enabled through US finance and technology transfer. This implies a substantial ramp-up of US support and international cooperation to enable these reductions.
The question of fair shares has particular importance for action aimed at limiting warming to 1.5°C, as it is implausible to believe that other countries will increase their efforts to make up for a major U.S. shortfall. The IPCC has established a global emissions reduction of 45% by 2030 (from 2010 levels) as the benchmark for limiting warming to 1.5°C, an assessment based on the available computer climate modeling–modeling that generally finds the wealthier, major-polluting countries reducing faster than the global average.
To determine the U.S. fair share contribution, the analysis calculates responsibility and capacity, per the criteria established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1992. Given that the United States is by far the biggest carbon emitter to date and, even more importantly, is the wealthiest country in the world, the fair share criteria assign to the U.S. the leading contribution to the global effort.
Global warming is driven by cumulative emissions (not annual emissions). And the U.S. has already emitted more than what many analyses deem to be its fair share of the cumulative global carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C. The domestic reduction of 70% by 2030 recommended by USCAN roughly aligns with the most ambitious domestic decarbonization achievable via a prosperous economy-wide mobilization.
The analysis calculates that the U.S. must meet the remainder of its fair share contribution by supporting the clean energy transition and efforts to stop deforestation in developing countries, reducing their annual emissions by 9 billion metric tons by 2030.
Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of USCAN, said: “Climate change is a global problem and every country must do everything it can to solve it. This very much includes the United States, which for all our terrible inequality is an extremely wealthy country. We can hardly expect other countries, particularly developing countries straining to lift their people out of poverty, to prioritize emissions reductions if we haven’t already done so. The new administration very much wants to make the US into a climate leader. Climate leaders do their fair shares.”
Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA, an international development and human rights organization that has supported the fair shares framework for nearly a decade, added: “Even if the United States could cut our emissions to zero, that wouldn’t be enough to meet our full fair share. In addition to urgent domestic climate action – something like the Green New Deal, implemented as soon as possible – in order to do our fair share we also have to provide the support needed to make a rapid transformation possible in poorer countries as well. That means direct transfers of money and technology to developing countries, including through the Green Climate Fund.”
Rev. Michael Malcom, Executive Director, People’s Justice Council, emphasized: “Our country is one of the richest in the world and has to do more than everyone else to fix this problem. But let’s be clear. This is a problem caused by the rich, and the corporations they control. The US has to do its fair share and that responsibility has to be shouldered by the rich, not forced onto the working class and historically marginalized people.”
Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change, University of Manchester; former Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research commented: “This is exactly the sort of national response that a clear, honest reading of the climate science calls for. And not only is it true to the science, but just as importantly it is fair. Only if we are prepared to acknowledge the disproportionate responsibility for historical emissions and also the huge and ongoing imbalance in per capita emissions are we ever going to develop sufficient trust for countries to cooperate in delivering on our Paris climate change commitments.”
Bill McKibben, writer and organizer, commented: “The climate crisis may be the most unfair thing that ever happened on this earth: the less you did to cause it, the harder you get hammered. These numbers give us a strong sense of what a just and honorable response might look like.”
The full analysis, background information, and methodological explanations can be found at http://www.usfairshare.org/. The USCAN analysis is part of a broader international effort to quantify individual countries’ fair shares of global climate action, endorsed by over 300 organizations around the world, which can be found at http://www.civilsocietyreview.org/.
Elizabeth Bast, Executive Director of Oil Change U.S.A., said: “It’s critical that the United States do its fair share to tackle the climate crisis — and that means a wholesale rethink of our role in the global energy system. We must not only equitably reduce our emissions here at home, but we must also stop feeding the world’s fossil fuel addiction. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, and much of that production is exported abroad. Doing our fair share means we must stop expanding our extraction, end our tens of billions of dollars per year in fossil fuel subsidies, and lead a truly just transition off fossil fuels.”
Bridget Burns, Director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), said, “To ‘leave no one behind’, leadership on climate change must be grounded in fairness and global solidarity. The United States must meet this crisis in full, repairing harms and investing in solutions that support the health of ecosystems, and the human rights and livelihoods of all people, in all countries and communities. Without real commitments to both systemic change in our consumption and production patterns, coupled with ambitious support to the global community, especially developing countries, we will undoubtedly fail to meet the promises of the Paris Agreement.”
Sriram Madhusoodanan, Corporate Accountability U.S. Climate Campaign Director said, “Regardless of who sits in the White House–Republican or Democrat–the U.S. has consistently been a bad faith actor backing Big Polluters instead of people at the UN climate talks. It is not enough for the U.S. to simply rejoin the Paris Agreement. It must do its fair share to address this crisis. The Biden administration has touted climate action, and it is time for them to walk the walk. With its reentry to the Paris Agreement, the U.S. must commit to pay what it owes to Global South countries, eliminate emissions, and stop undermining people-first solutions.”
Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth US, said, “For far too long, the United States approach to addressing climate change in both the domestic and international context has ignored or denied our historic contributions to the climate emergency and our greater responsibility to act. President-elect Biden has an opportunity and an obligation to reset United States ambition and action to be consistent with its fair share of the global mitigation effort to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. This requires that science, as well as equity, fairness and historic responsibility dictate the United States approach to the climate crisis.”
Jean Su, Energy Justice Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “For too long, the United States has shirked its global responsibility to slash greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the country’s heavy responsibility for contributing to the climate catastrophe. President Biden has the executive authority to fulfill that duty with bold steps toward ending the fossil fuel era and moving us to a renewable and just energy system, even without Congressional action. The planet has only a sliver of time left to act, and we urge President Biden to seize that moment.”
US Climate Action Network (USCAN) is a vital network for 175+ organizations active on climate change. USCAN’s mission is to build trust and alignments among members to fight climate change in a just and equitable way. USCAN’S vision is a powerful, inclusive, and trusting network of US organizations who worked together to meet the global goals in the Paris Climate Agreement and exceed the US targets outlined in that agreement.