Scientists say new climate law is likely to reduce warming

Scientists say new climate law is likely to reduce warming

WASHINGTON — Massive incentives for clean energy in the U.S. law signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden should reduce future global warming “not a lot, but not insignificantly either,” according to a climate scientist who led an independent analysis of the package.

Even with nearly $375 billion in tax credits and other financial enticements for renewable energy in the law, the United States still isn’t doing its share to help the world stay within another few tenths of a degree of warming, a new analysis by Climate Action Tracker says. This group of scientists evaluates each country’s climate actions and goals. The group still considers American actions insufficient, but praises some achievements.

“This is the biggest thing to happen to the U.S. on climate policy,” said Bill Hare, the Australia-based director of Climate Analytics which puts out the tracker. “When you think back over the last decades, you know, not wanting to be impolite, there’s a lot of talk, but not much action.”

This is action, he said. Hare stated that Americans continue to emit twice the amount of heat-trapping gas per capita than Europeans. Over time, the U.S. also has emitted more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere than any other country.

Before the law, Climate Action Tracker calculated that if every other nation made efforts similar to those of the U.S., it would lead to a world with catastrophic warming — 5. 4 to 7. 2 degrees (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial times. Now in the best case scenario, which Hare said is reasonable and likely, U.S. actions, if mimicked, would lead to only 3. 6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) of warming. If things don’t work quite as optimistically as Hare thinks, it would be 5. 4 degrees (3 degrees Celsius) of warming, the analysis said.

Even that best case scenario falls short of the overarching internationally accepted goal of limiting warming to 2. 7 degrees warming (1. 5 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times. And the world has already warmed 2 degrees (1. 1 degrees Celsius) since the mid-19th century.

Other nations “who we know have been holding back on coming forward with more ambitious policies and targets” are now more likely to take action in a “significant spillover effect globally,” Hare said. Hare said that officials from Chile, and some other countries in Southeast Asia, whom he did not identify, had told him last summer they would wait for the U.S. to act. Hare stated that while China won’t speak loudly, they will consider the U.S. action as something to follow.

Scientists at the Climate Action Tracker calculated that without any other new climate policies, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 will shrink to 26% to 42% below 2005 levels, which is still short of the country’s goal of cutting emissions in half. Analysts at the think tank Rhodium Group calculated pollution cuts of 31% to 44% from the new law.

Other analysts and scientists said the Climate Action Tracker numbers makes sense.

” The U.S. contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions is huge,” stated Gabriel Vecchi, Princeton University’s climate scientist. “So reducing that is definitely going to have a global impact.”

Samantha Gross, director of climate and energy at the Brookings Institution, called the new law a down payment on U.S. emission reductions.

” After this law is passed, the United States can now celebrate and then concentrate on how to implement it.


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