EIA: United States Will Fall Far Short Of Obama’s 2020 Climate Pledge

The Energy Information Administration (EAI) projects that the United States will fall far short of its commitments to greenhouse pollution reductions, putting the future prosperity of human civilization at risk. To give humanity a chance of keeping climate change at levels compatible with modern industrial civilization, global emissions need to peak before 2020, with the developed world peaking well before.

In its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA forecasts that natural gas consumption will surge as coal and oil use remains strong. Greenhouse gas emissions fell by 8 percent from 2005 levels in 2009, but that progress will reverse. The EIA projects that climate pollution will start rising again, leading to only a 7.5 percent reduction in 2020 and a 3.2 percent reduction in 2035:

The White House website, describing how President Obama’s leadership is allowing the United States to “meet the climate change challenge,” writes how President Obama negotiated the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In that document, the United States committed to cutting its greenhouse pollution by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

In 2011, climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing said the United States was still “committed” to the 17 percent target, but “cannot yet tell you how close we are to meeting the 17 percent reduction levels.”


“The United States takes seriously the commitments first made by our Leaders in Copenhagen and reaffirmed in Cancun,” US climate envoy Todd Stern declared at the international climate talks in Durban, South Africa last December. “We are making progress toward our target of reducing emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020 through an array of domestic efforts.”

According to the EIA, the United States will lose ground already achieved when the pledge was made, and fall 56 percent short of its 2020 target. This year’s projection is more optimistic than the 2011 report, which estimated an 80 percent shortfall.

The United States is nowhere close to meeting even the insufficient target set by the administration. Without major, immediate changes in national policy, human civilization will be locked on a path of catastrophic global warming. The White House would do well to be honest about that reality.