Press Release

New Post: On Trump, Paris, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

May 1, 2017

WASHINGTON—Resources for the Future (RFF) Fellow Marc Hafstead has posted a new blog: “On Trump, Paris, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” In it, he starkly notes: “Simmering tensions in the White House and ongoing media coverage aside, it is my belief that—in terms of future US greenhouse gas emissions—the decision about whether or not to stay in the Paris Agreement is largely symbolic.” He also notes that President Trump already has taken steps that will increase US emissions.  

He first points out that the Paris Agreement is non-binding. The Obama administration pledged to reduce emissions 26–28 percent relative to 2005 by 2025, but there is no mechanism to punish countries that fail to achieve their targets. Projections for emissions under Obama-era regulations, he says, “show exactly why the Paris targets are symbolic—only under the rosiest assumptions would emissions even come close to the Obama 2025 Paris pledge.” 

What really is important to future emissions in the United States, according to the new post, are the policies that either promote fossil fuels or rescind Obama-era environmental regulations. To that end, Hafstead offers a brief table displaying historical and projected greenhouse gas emissions under Obama and Trump, as well as a detailed table with the calculations that rely mostly on data from US government sources.

According to Dr. Hafstead's analysis, there is already evidence that President Trump’s actions in his first 100 days in office—and well before the White House meeting on Paris even took place—will lead to higher emissions over the next decade. Hafstead’s calculations indicate that “as a result of the Trump administration’s actions during the president’s first few months in office ... US greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be 10.2 to 12.6 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, compared to 17.3 to 24.9 percent below 2005 levels under the Obama baseline—a difference of 7.1 to 12.4 percent of 2005 emissions.”

The author ends by noting that “this is merely an accounting exercise using projections from the US federal government and ignores all costs from reducing emissions from any policy. Nothing in this post should be read as an endorsement of any Obama-era regulation or as an endorsement of rescinding any Obama-era regulation.”

Read the full post: “On Trump, Paris, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

Resources for the Future does not take institutional positions. Please attribute any findings to the authors or the research itself. For example, use "According to research from RFF …" rather than "According to RFF …".

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Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, that conducts rigorous economic research and analysis to improve environmental and natural resource policy.