WASHINGTON (AP) — Massive clean energy incentives in the U.S. law signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden should reduce future global warming “not much, but not insignificantly,” according to a climate scientist who led an independent package analysis.
Even with nearly $375 billion in tax credits and other financial incentives for renewable energy in the law, the United States is still not doing its part to help the world stay within another tenth of a degree of warming, a new analysis by Climate Action. The tracker says. The team of scientists reviews and rates each country’s climate goals and actions. He still rated American action as “inadequate” but welcomed some progress.
“This is the biggest thing to happen in the U.S. on climate policy,” said Bill Hare, director of Australia-based Climate Analytics, which publishes the tracker. “When you think about the last few decades, you know, without wanting to be rude, there’s been a lot of talk, but not a lot of action.”
This is action, he said. Not as much as Europe, and Americans still emit twice as many heat-trapping gases per person as Europeans, Hare said. The US has also spewed more heat-trapping gas into the air over time than any other nation.
In the face of the law, the Climate Action Tracker estimated that if every other nation made efforts similar to those of the US, it would lead to a catastrophically warming world – 5.4 to 7.2 degrees (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels time. Now in the best-case scenario, which Hay said is reasonable and likely, US actions, if replicated, would lead to only 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) of warming. If things don’t work out as optimistically as Hare thinks, it would be 5.4 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Celsius), according to the analysis.
Even this best-case scenario falls short of the overall internationally agreed goal of limiting warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. And the world has already warmed 2 degrees (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the mid-19th century.
Other nations “that we know have been holding back from presenting more ambitious policies and goals” are now more likely to take action with “significant spillover effect globally,” Hare said. He said officials from Chile and some Southeast Asian countries, which he would not name, told him this summer that they were waiting for U.S. action first.
And China “won’t say that out loud, but I think they will see the US move as something they have to match,” Hare said.
Climate Action Tracker scientists have estimated that without other new climate policies, US carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 will shrink to 26% to 42% below 2005 levels, which is still below the country’s goal of cutting emissions in half. Analysts at the Rhodium Group think tank estimated pollution reductions of 31% to 44% from the new law.
Other analysts and scientists said the Climate Action Tracker numbers make sense.
“The US contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is huge,” said Princeton University climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi. “So the reduction will definitely have a global impact.”
Samantha Gross, director of climate and energy at the Brookings Institution, called the new law a down payment on US emissions reductions.
“Now that that’s done, the U.S. can celebrate a little bit and then focus on implementation and what needs to happen next,” Gross said.
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