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US Announces Pro-Economic Growth Strategy for Mid-Century Decarbonization


16 November 2016, Marrakech - A new report, published today at the climate talks in Marrakech, presents President-Elect Trump with one of his first, and most radical challenges.  In the US Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonisation, the outgoing administration lays out a “strategy to deeply decarbonize” the economy, by reducing the nation's emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050, while boosting growth and jobs.

Describing “ambitious and sustained” action on climate change as “a pro-growth economic strategy” the report notes that US greenhouse gas emissions have declined by nine percent between 2008 and 2015 while the US economy grew by ten percent, proving that emissions can co-exist with a growing economy. It adds, “the world's largest economies recognize that scaling up low carbon technologies is an economic opportunity. By investing in low carbon solutions American companies and workers can lead the clean energy and low carbon global economy of the 21st century.”

Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development said. "President-elect Trump has a mandate to increase growth in the US economy. He will have his own ideas on how to do it but, as he will no doubt understand, embracing the low carbon future is not just about climate change, but about cleaning up the air and increasing American's prosperity and wellbeing.”

“China and other major economies are forging ahead basing future growth on 21st century technologies, like clean renewable energy, rather than trying to cling on to 19th century ones. The Trump administration should help lead this new industrial revolution, rather than leaving it to our competitors.”

In an ongoing collaboration with Mexico, Canada, non-governmental and private sector, the strategy released today identifies three major categories of action for achieving deep economy-wide net greenhouse gas emissions reductions. These categories include transitioning to a low-carbon energy system, carbon remove and sequestration largely from maintaining and expanding our forests and other landscapes, and reducing non-CO2 short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and HFC refrigerants.

In October 2016, the US worked with nearly 200 other countries to adopt an amendment under the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, which could avoid up to 0.5°C warming by 2100. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory calculates that moving to super-efficient air conditioning and other appliances during the refrigerant transition has the potential to double the climate benefits.

The US report cited areas for further near-term ambition actions on HFCs, including calling for measures to address existing stock of refrigerators and air conditioners, which already contain HFCs and have potential to leak into the atmosphere over the coming decades, additional RD&D support to ensure new alternatives to HFCs continue to enter the market, and working with partners in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), launched in 2012, to promote climate-friendly alternatives and standards for HFCs.

Earlier this week at COP22 a group of by over thirty experts in climate science, economics, policy, and national security launched a report emphasizing the need for fast global action including through sister agreements much like the Montreal Protocol.

The “Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People & the Planet from Extreme Climate Changes” high-level summary released on Monday takes a new approach to staying below 2°C and thus avoid extreme and unmanageable climate changes.  The report identifies 4 building blocks for climate policy success and 10 scalable solutions implemented through multi- dimensional and multi-sectoral methods to get the global economy and society to achieve rapid reductions in short-lived climate pollutants by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality and climate stability by 2050.

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