Recapturing U.S. climate leadership with a bold new commitment to the Paris Agreement

The United States is officially back in the Paris Agreement, after four years of climate inaction and science denial. Now, to restore American leadership and meet the scale of the climate crisis, the Biden administration must put forward a bold new commitment to the Paris Agreement – a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – that is both ambitious and credible.

In order to hit both marks, the administration should put forward an NDC that cuts emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is consistent with the science and President Biden’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050. It is also in line with commitments of other advanced economies, and one that many state leaders, businesses, advocates and others are already calling for. Crucially, it can be achieved with strong all-in action from the White House and Congress.

Using a range of analyses, this EDF report demonstrates how achieving at least 50% reductions is achievable – and that charting an ambitious path on climate is vital for growing a stronger and more equitable, clean U.S. economy.

Download PDF

Leveraging a whole-of-government approach is essential

An array of policy tools should be harnessed to cut emissions in half, including:

  • Advancing a suite of robust climate and clean air protections under existing law targeting the power and transportation sectors, as well as methane emissions from oil and gas.
  • Directing significant economic recovery dollars towards accelerated deployment of clean electricity and electric vehicles.
  • Enacting new legislation that limits pollution from the power sector, such as a clean electricity standard;
  • Increasing federal investment in innovation and deployment of promising emerging technologies.
  • Continued action and leadership from states, cities and businesses.

The analyses also underscore the importance of early action in this pivotal decade. In addition to cutting long-lived climate pollutants like carbon emissions, we must swiftly curb powerful short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, that can significantly slow down the rate of warming in the near-term. The administration should – as a component of the new NDC – put forward an explicit commitment to reduce methane emissions economy-wide by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Ambitious action can drive a thriving, more equitable economy

The U.S. has much to gain from all-in action to meet a 50% reduction or more by 2030 in this pivotal decade. Beyond protecting Americans from the most damaging climate impacts, the report underscores how aggressive action can bring significant benefits to the U.S. economy, while driving progress on public health and equity.

Those benefits can be secured right away. Economic relief and recovery spending to support clean power, transportation and manufacturing can help rebuild the post-COVID economy and create millions of good jobs for American workers. These investments can also help build a more equitable economy and improve air quality for all Americans – particularly low-income communities and communities of color that have borne and continue to bear a disproportionate share of harmful pollution.

Ultimately, there are many pathways to get to 50% reductions or greater by 2030 – and how we get there matters. Policies to reach this goal can and should be designed to expand access to economic opportunity, reduce exposure to harmful air pollution, and empower American workers in every community.

Download PDF