The US submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC today, confirming President Obama’s domestic plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, but said it doesn’t intend to use international market mechanisms to help meet that target.
Russia also submitted its INDC, pledging to extend its 2020 goal to cut emissions to 25-30% beneath 1990 levels for a further 10 years without using international markets. The goal effectively enables the country’s emissions to increase from current levels as its emissions plunged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and were around 32% under 1990 levels by 2012.
Both countries – the world’s second and fourth biggest emitters – aligned their views on credit use with those of the EU and Norway, which have also confirmed that they will not seek to use international carbon offsets from new or existing markets. In contrast, Switzerland – the first country to submit its INDC – proposed using credits to meet almost half of its goal.
While the US INDC has ruled out tapping international offset markets, California is pursuing its own pact with Mexico via the state’s cap-and-trade scheme that could involve the import of non-domestic credits.
The US said its target deepens the ambition shown through its aim to cut 2005 levels by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, a goal it has all but met thanks largely to the increased use of cleaner natural gas in the country’s energy mix.
“This target is consistent with a straight line emission reduction pathway from 2020 to deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80% or more by 2050. The target is part of a longer range, collective effort to transition to a low-carbon global economy as rapidly as possible,” the US INDC submission said.
“The United States’ target is ambitious and achievable, and we have the tools we need to reach it. The goal will roughly double the pace at which we’re reducing carbon pollution through cost-effective measures using laws already on the books,” added Brian Deese, senior advisor to Obama, in a post announcing the pledge on medium.com.
The US listed the following policies that it will use to meet its target:
– a phase down of HFC emissions
– energy efficiency measures for buildings and appliances
– fuel economy standards for cars, trucks and heavy-duty vehicles
“We also highlight ongoing activities that will further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions – including upcoming rules to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single-biggest source of U.S. emissions,” Deese added.
Republican majority senate leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky slammed the announcement.
“Even if the job-killing and likely illegal Clean Power Plan were fully implemented, the US could not meet the targets laid out in this proposed new plan,” he said.
“Considering that two-thirds of the US federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal.”
At least 34 countries including those in the EU bloc have now submitted their INDCs to the UN, meeting a March 31 deadline for parties ready make their pledges.
The INDCs are to be collated ahead of UN talks in Paris this December geared at agreeing a new global climate treaty that would come into force next decade.
“In October we will produce a synthesis report aggregating the effect of all the INDCs submitted. The initial INDCs will clearly not add up to the emissions reductions needed to keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees C, which is one reason why the Paris agreement must factor in a long term emission trajectory based on science,” said UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.