US to cut greenhouse emissions by 28% of 2005 levels

April 01, 2015 08:03
Roads line this parched land in Australia, a condition environmentalists attribute to climate change. The US is trying to take the lead in upcoming talks on combating climate change. Photo: Reuters

Washington has unveiled measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, part of a strategy to generate momentum for a global agreement later this year on climate change.

The target will roughly double the pace of carbon pollution reduction in the United States, the Obama administration said in a submission to the United Nations.

The US plan cited existing measures such as standards for vehicle fuel economy and improved appliance efficiency to help meet the target and proposed regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants and methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Many of those policy steps are opposed by Republicans who control both houses of congress and threats of lawsuits from industry groups and some states challenging the administration's legal authority to impose those regulations.

Seeking to take a leadership role ahead of UN talks from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris, US officials said countries that produce 60 percent of global greenhouse gases have pledged to cut or slow the pace of those emissions.

The US plan relies on a host of executive actions to hit the upper end of the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

"What is significant about where we are today is... that the countries that have made commitments span the spectrum of countries, including emerging economies," said Brian Deese, the senior environmental adviser to Obama.

China announced plans to cap emissions around 2030 in a joint announcement with the US last November.

On Friday, Mexico set a goal to cap its emissions in 2026.

The European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Russia have also submitted plans to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, meeting the UN's informal deadline of March 31.

But major carbon emitters from India to Brazil and Canada to Japan have yet to produce their plans, which may hinder the process of reaching agreement before the Paris talks, according to some environment policy observers.

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