Plans by United States President Donald Trump to roll back climate change regulations could boost U.S. carbon emissions by more than 200 million tonnes a year by 2025, according to a report prepared for state attorneys general released in early March.
Why it matters: The increase from the world’s second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter behind China would hobble global efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Most scientists agree that climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels and will lead to devastating sea-level rises, droughts and more frequent powerful storms.
“The Trump administration’s actions amount to a virtual surrender to climate change,” said the report by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, released at a gathering of the National Association for Attorneys General in Washington.
The report from the research group, based out of New York University’s law school, analyzed the impact of rolling back six major regulations related to climate change that Trump is seeking to rework to unfetter business.
They include national vehicle tailpipe standards and the Obama-era Clean Power Plan to limit emissions from power plants, among others focused on major polluter industries.
More than a dozen state attorneys general, including those from Maryland, New York and Massachusetts, are challenging the administration on their rollbacks in court.
California, for example, is leading a coalition of 21 states in challenging the administration’s rollback of tailpipe standards. Weakening those standards will lead to an additional 16 million to 34 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2025, according to the report.
It also estimated that American drivers would pay between $193 billion and $236 billion in added fuel costs by 2035 without the national clean car standard.
The Trump administration has said it wants to reduce the emissions standard targets for vehicles because sticking to them would make automobiles too expensive.
The Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE), which replaced the Clean Power Plan, would also result in a big jump in emissions along with a higher number of premature deaths from poor air quality, the report said.
The administration has countered that its revised rule would reduce emissions in much the same way as the Clean Power Plan, but in a way that strictly adheres to the federal Clean Air Act.
The six regulations the centre examined provided the “most important near-term opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight against climate change,” the report said.