Fox hosts falsely attacked the Obama administration for pledging to reduce its carbon emissions, claiming that the U.S. is the only country doing so and that the move will prove unpopular. But 32 other countries -- which account for 58 percent of global emissions -- have already committed to reducing carbon pollution in advance of international climate change negotiations that will occur in December, and both the Obama administration's plan for reducing emissions and its intention to sign a global climate agreement are supported by more than two-thirds of Americans.
U.S. Announces Emissions Reduction Goal Ahead Of International Climate Talks
United States Submits Emissions Reduction Plan Ahead Of Global Climate Negotiations. On March 31, the Obama administration formally unveiled its strategy for reducing U.S. carbon emissions to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels over the next ten years, by submitting what's known as the U.S.'s “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDC) to the United Nations. As President Obama's senior advisor Brian Deese noted, the administration's plan includes policies that have already been implemented such as fuel economy standards for vehicles and energy efficiency measures for buildings and appliances, as well as EPA proposals to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. [Medium, 3/31/15]
Countries Are Expected To Sporadically Submit INDCs To UN Throughout 2015. As Carbon Brief has noted, countries previously agreed that those “ready to do so” would submit their INDCs to the UN by March 31, but "[o]ther countries are likely to come forward sporadically throughout the rest of the year." [Carbon Brief, 3/31/15]
Fox Hosts Falsely Claim U.S. Is Only Country Pledging To Reduce Carbon Emissions And Distort China's Climate
Fox's MacCallum: U.S. Is Voluntarily Reducing Emissions At “Upper End Of The Range” But “No One Else Has To Do It.” On the March 31 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum bemoaned that the U.S. is voluntarily reducing its emissions at the “upper end of the range” when “no one else has to do it.” Later in the segment, Fox Business' Stuart Varney claimed that under an agreement between the U.S. and China, China is “allowed to keep on polluting, keep on emitting until the year 2030, at which point they will be asked to start reducing. So we pay for a big reduction while they continue to pollute.” MacCallum agreed that “China gets a big pass” because they're allowed to “do emissions as usual until 2030.”
Fox's Varney: China “Doesn't Have To Do Anything.” In a March 31 interview with Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) on Fox Business' Varney & Co, Varney complained: "[T]his climate change deal is a very big deal and frankly I can't believe that you in the Senate and the rest of Congress will allow this president to commit America to that kind of emissions cut when China doesn't have to do anything." [Fox Business, Varney & Company, 3/31/15]
Fox's Cavuto: China Is Not Going To Do Anything For 15 Years. On the March 31 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Cavuto mocked China's pledge to reach peak emissions by 2030, saying, “It would be like me agreeing to a diet but I won't start [for] 15 years,” and adding “I would sign on to anything that gives me 15 years to think about it.” Cavuto concluded that the U.S. climate agreement with China is “a sham” and “bogus.” Republican strategist Lisa Boothe similarly claimed: “What President Obama is essentially doing is saying that we`re going to cut our emissions by 28 percent. Meanwhile, China is going to continue building their energy infrastructure. They`re going to continue their emissions.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/15]
Fact: 32 Other Countries -- Including China -- Have Committed To Reducing Their Carbon Emissions
Altogether, Countries Representing 58 Percent Of Global Carbon Emissions Recently Announced Plans For Reductions. Along with the United States, China, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway, and the European Union (comprised of 28 countries) have announced post-2020 climate targets. As White House advisor Brian Deese explained, these countries account for over half of global emissions from the energy sector according to Energy Information Administration data:
China And U.S. Announced Firm Commitment To Reduce Emissions Ahead Of Climate Treaty. In November, the United States and China announced a landmark commitment to reduce their carbon emissions. The New York Times reported:
China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.
The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030. [The New York Times, 11/12/14]
World Resources Institute: To Peak In 2030 China Must “Act Quickly To Implement New Policies.” The World Resources Institute explained that in order to meet its commitment of reaching “peak emissions” by 2030, China must take “near-term action” including to “cap coal use, scale up renewables and efficiency, and reconfigure fossil resource and carbon pricing” :
Scenarios indicate that to peak in 2030, China will have to act quickly to implement new policies. While China has not specified the rate at which it will change its emissions trajectory or the level at which it will ultimately peak, GHG emission scenarios provide an indication. Researchers from MIT and China's Tsinghua University, as well as the International Energy Agency (IEA), find that by continuing current efforts to reduce carbon intensity, emissions will level off between 2030 and 2040 at approximately 12-14 billion metric tons per year. A move to peak emissions by around 2030, then - which corresponds with a peak around 10 billion metric tons in the MIT-Tsinghua and IEA scenarios - improves on the current trajectory. Scenarios that show China peaking in 2030 assume near-term action by China. For instance, the MIT scenario assumes a carbon tax will take effect in 2015.
The challenges are not trivial: China will have to cap coal use, scale up renewables and efficiency, and reconfigure fossil resource and carbon pricing. [World Resources Institute, 11/20/14]
The Washington Post: Meeting Emissions Reduction Target Will Be “Difficult” For China, Require “Huge” Commitment To Zero-Emission Energy Sources. The Washington Post reported that in order for China to meet its announced carbon reduction target, a “huge” scale of construction will be required, including adding more zero-emission generating capacity than “all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generating capacity of the United States.” The Post also highlighted China's cap-and-trade pilot programs, and that it has already halted construction of coal plants in some regions:
Meeting the goals will be difficult for both countries.
China completes a new coal plant every eight to 10 days, and while its economic growth has slowed, it is still expanding at a brisk rate of over 7 percent.
The scale of construction for China to meet its goals is huge even by Chinese standards. It must add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generating capacity by 2030 -- more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generating capacity of the United States.
China has cap-and-trade pilot programs in five provinces and eight cities. It is also the world's largest investor in solar and wind energy.
Moreover, it has barred coal-plant construction in some regions. Such construction has dropped from more than 90 gigawatts in 2006 to 36.5 gigawatts in 2013, according to the World Resources Institute. [Washington Post, 11/11/14]
The Guardian: China “Pledged Bigger Climate Action” Than The U.S. The Guardian's Dana Nuccitelli debunked the claim that China's climate change commitment allows it to maintain a “business-as-usual” approach, noting that curbing “rising carbon emissions as China's economy continues to grow will require substantial effort.” By contrast, Nuccitelli noted that the U.S. “will have a relatively easy time” meeting its targeted reduction of 26-28 percent, because it will “only require continuing the current rate at which American carbon pollution is already falling” :
China could not meet its climate pledge by maintaining business-as-usual (BAU) and doing “nothing.” Quite the opposite; curbing those rising carbon emissions as China's economy continues to grow will require substantial effort. That's why President Xi also pledged that 20% of the country's energy would come from low-carbon sources by 2030.
In comparison, the United States will have a relatively easy time meeting the pledge made by President Obama. US carbon pollution is already about 10-15% below 2005 levels and falling by about 1.5% per year. Achieving the target of 26-28% emissions cuts below 2005 levels by 2025 will only require continuing the current rate at which American carbon pollution is already falling.
[The Guardian, 11/14/14]
European Union Pledged To Reduce Emissions To At Least 40 Percent Below 1990 Levels By 2030. According to the World Resources Institute, “The EU's INDC puts forward a legally binding commitment to reduce its overall emissions at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.” As Climate Central has noted, “The European Union's (EU) 28 countries are responsible for about one-sixth of the greenhouse gas pollution that's created by humanity every year.” [World Resources Institute, 3/7/15; Climate Central, 10/24/14]
Mexico Pledged To Reduce Emissions By 22 Percent By 2030. Mexico was the first developing country to formally submit its INDC pledge on March 27. InsideClimateNews reported that Mexico will reach peak emissions by 2026, leading to a 22 percent reduction in 2030 from the “business-as-usual course” :
Mexico promised on Friday that its emissions of greenhouse gases will peak by 2026 and then begin to decline, making it the first developing country to present a formal climate pledge under a United Nations process that is meant to rope in all the world's nations, rich and poor.
Mexico said its plan would lead to greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 that are 22 percent lower than would have occurred on a business-as-usual course. “This INDC is consistent with Mexico's pathway to reduce 50% of emissions by the year 2050, with respect to the year 2000,” it said.
That would make Mexico's announcement a bit more ambitious than what is expected from China, but not as ambitious as what the U.S. will offer. [InsideClimateNews, 3/27/15]
Fox Pundits Also Baselessly Claimed Americans Oppose Obama Administration's Pledge To Reduce Emissions
Varney: U.S. Commitment To Global Climate Treaty “Is Not Going To Be Very Popular.” Varney asserted that the administration's climate pledge “is not going to be very popular,” and that “it's not going to be well received.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/31/15]
Republican Strategist Boothe: "[T]his Isn't What The American People Want." On Cavuto, Republican strategist Lisa Boothe claimed the Obama administration plan to reduce carbon pollution “isn`t what the American people want,” citing a recent Gallup poll showing that Americans' overall concern about climate change is low. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/15]
Reality: Majority Of American Voters Support Reaching An International Climate Agreement. A poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group for the Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists found that 72 percent of likely 2016 voters support President Obama “signing an international agreement committing all countries to address climate change by reducing their carbon emissions.” [Benenson Strategy Group, 3/25/15]
Reality: Multiple Polls Show Americans Largely Support The EPA's Clean Power Plan, A Key Component Of America's Climate Commitment. A recent poll from University of Michigan's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy found that 67 percent of Americans support the Clean Power Plan, which would address climate change by placing the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The poll's findings echo those from previous polls carried out by Yale's Project for Climate Change Communication (which found 67 percent of Americans support the plan), Pew Research (which found 65 percent support the plan), and The Washington Post-ABC News (which found 70 percent of Americans think the government should reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants). From the University of Michigan poll: