Leading researchers today released a report finding that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose by more than 3.4% in 2018, the first annual increase since 2006 and the largest rise in 20 years. This news comes both as President Trump continues to rollback greenhouse gas reduction policies for power plants, vehicles and other sectors—and as domestic climate change-related impacts, from hurricanes, floods, fires and sea-level rise, cost US consumers and taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
The data clearly show that additional measures will be needed to cut long-term US greenhouse gas emissions, above and beyond overturning Trump’s rollbacks of auto fuel efficiency rules and regulations on power plants emissions. These additional policies must include some combination of a zero-carbon energy standard for the electricity sector, renewed incentives to electrify the US vehicle sector, funding for clean energy technology breakthroughs, and the reduction of super greenhouse pollutants like methane and HFCs. In time, they will also require a carbon tax.
House Democrats are entirely aware of this imperative. Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone has indicated that he will take up a series of measures aimed at cutting US emissions, likely to include most importantly a zero-carbon energy standard that will require greater amounts of clean energy in the economy. Such a standard should include all types of zero-carbon electricity production, including not only wind, solar and hydro-power, but also nuclear generation and coal and natural gas with carbon capture.
House Democrats should also consider a series of tax and other measures aimed at dramatically speeding up the transition to electric vehicles by providing more robust and reliable consumer and industry incentives.
In addition, Democrats must advance a clean energy infrastructure plan that provides the charging stations necessary to support tens of millions of clean electric vehicles that will be appearing on American roads, and many other features aimed at using advanced technology to cut emissions, and increase energy efficiency in every sector. And the House Appropriations Committee must at least double funding for clean energy technology breakthroughs like large scale electricity storage that could be game changers, allowing the U.S. to deeply cut its domestic emissions while creating new jobs and lucrative export markets for American industry.