But it gets worse, because as ambitious as the government’s proposals to reduce emissions may appear, in reality they are not enough to deal with the rapidly evolving climate crisis. This is partly because our emissions have already “burned in” some temperature rise. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for at least a century, and our accumulated “old” emissions have already committed us to a global temperature rise of at least 1.8 ° C and probably 2.3 ° C. (We’re currently at 1.1 ° C, or about 2 ° F above the pre-industrial average – and the results can be seen all around us.) So any additional emissions could quickly cause us to pass irreversible tipping points and start chain reactions, cannot control people.
So achieving the government’s goal of reducing US emissions by 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 will not save us from trouble unless we are simultaneously extracting waste CO2 from the atmosphere – a task which is hardly tackled.
Additionally, global emissions and the fossil fuel burning that releases them are not expected to decrease, but rather to increase dramatically over the next decade. Despite the agreements made in the Paris Accords – which in themselves are insufficient to sensibly slow global warming and which most countries are already failing to comply with – the International Energy Agency reports that only 2% of global government spending was invested in clean energy, while fossil fuels were subsidized with 5.9 tons in 2020 alone. By 2030, global fossil fuel production is expected to be twice as high as would be compatible with the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Agreement.