President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord is a blow to work done by the Obama administration to address climate change. It’s possible, however, that the move won’t affect the country’s ability to hit the agreement’s first milestone, but it’s highly unlikely that the U.S. will hit the next target in 2025.
Even without U.S. participation, current domestic environmental policies and economic trends — which favor clean energy — make it possible that by 2020, carbon emissions in this country will be reduced nearly 17 percent below 2005 levels.
During that year, the U.S. released more than 6,500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In the decade since, the amount of pollutants has decreased dramatically as states began enacting their own set of policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions and federal emissions regulations were put on vehicles and power plants.
Those efforts have already resulted in a 13.7 percent reduction in carbon emissions, according to the research analysis firm Rhodium Group.
But if the current administration does away with existing policies such as waivers that allow for more stringent state environmental laws or higher fuel efficiency standards for cars, experts doubt whether the U.S. will come close to the 2020 goal.