On July 17th 2020, a long USCAN alignment process, led by USCAN members ActionAid USA, North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, the Center for Biological Diversity and EcoEquity led to the adoption of the following statement:
USCAN believes that the US fair share of the global mitigation effort in 2030 is equivalent to a reduction of 195% below its 2005 emissions levels, reflecting a fair share range of 173-229%.
These figures reflect the true scale of the US climate effort necessary to hold the global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius, without placing an undue and unjust burden on people around the world living in poverty. By making this statement, the USCAN network aligns itself with the rising demand for a top-line US climate target that actually corresponds to the scale of the climate challenge. It thus seeks to invite reciprocal action on the same scale by other countries, and to make the stabilization of the climate system possible.
USCAN’s adoption of this position also serves two other major purposes:
- It communicates, with the weight of a rigorous methodology and broad acceptance from US and global civil society, a level of necessary action that is well beyond any previously adopted US policy (e.g. the Obama administration pledge to the Paris agreement was 26-28% reductions 2030). It is, indeed, more ambitious than Bernie Sanders Green New Deal plan, which—using our same methodology but slightly different ethical assumptions—aimed for the equivalent of 161% reductions by 2030.
- It asserts that the US fair share is too large to be met through domestic emissions reductions alone. Therefore, it casts the provision of finance and technological support for additional reductions in poorer countries as an integral part of the US climate obligation, without which we have no hope of meeting the 1.5°C goal. For instance, if we hold to the domestic target embodied in USCAN’s Vision for Equitable Climate Action, that the US must reduce domestic emissions by 70% from 2005 levels by 2030, then it implies that we must do the rest of our fair share (the equivalent of reducing emissions by 125% by 2030) by way of international support.
This methodology behind this analysis was developed by the Climate Equity Reference Project and is documented on its website. This methodology considers countries’ historical greenhouse gas emissions and their capacity for climate action (proxied by income) in calculating their respective fair shares of the necessary global climate action, relative to a given global temperature goal. In this case, that global temperature goal is 1.5°C, but it should also be said that the global mitigation pathway used in this analysis can also be considered as a relatively strong 2C pathway. This is true of any legitimate 1.5°C mitigation pathway.
The long process behind this position focused on determining ethical principles that everyone within USCAN, and many people in the larger climate movement, could agree on for determining the US fair share. Thus it considered key questions in detail, such as “how much should historical emissions play a role in a country’s fair share?” and “how should we determine a country’s capacity for climate action – how do we count the incomes of the poor relative to the incomes of the rich in this calculation?”
For more detailed information on all this, see the US Fair Share Backgrounder. But do immediately note that many key ethical and political matters are outside the scope of the position being taken here. Most importantly, it says nothing about how the US should reach its fair share. That said, we are absolutely clear that the USCAN network only supports proposals that center justice and equity. What we seek to do here is build consensus around an ethical stance and a top-line target that are complementary to the still-necessary efforts to design policies to achieve that target while ensuring justice and dignity for all. We are determined to achieve a position that is fair to Black, Brown, Indigenous and other historically marginalized communities here in the US, while at the same time centering the needs of marginalized communities around the world.