Obama’s CO2 Plan Will Only Avert 0.001 Degree Of Warming A Year

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Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma for­mal­ly sub­mit­ted his plan to cut U.S. car­bon diox­ide emis­sions to the U.N. Tues­day and a cli­mate sci­en­tists has already point­ed out a glar­ing prob­lem: The plan will have vir­tu­al­ly no impact on glob­al tem­per­a­tures.

Obama’s car­bon diox­ide reduc­tion plan com­mits the U.S. to 26 to 28 per­cent below 2005 lev­els by 2025 — a promise he made last year to secure a pledge from Chi­na to reduce its own emis­sions.

But Obama’s plan will only avert 0.001 degrees Cel­sius of glob­al tem­per­a­ture ris­es a year, accord­ing to cli­mate sci­en­tist Chip Knap­pen­berg­er with the lib­er­tar­i­an Cato Insti­tute.

Knap­pen­berg­er notes that Obama’s cli­mate plan mir­rors a sce­nario where the U.S. reduces car­bon diox­ide emis­sions 80 per­cent by 2050. Using this assump­tion, Knap­pen­berg­er cal­cu­lates that only about one-tenth of a degree of tem­per­a­ture rise will be avert­ed by 2100. This breaks down to about a one-thou­sandth of a degree of avert­ed tem­per­a­ture rise every year over the next cen­tu­ry.

The cost? It’s not clear, but EPA reg­u­la­tions aimed at cut­ting car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from the ener­gy sec­tor is pro­ject­ed to cost as much as $8.8 bil­lion a year based on agency fig­ures. Oth­er stud­ies put the cost much high­er — a NERA study found the costs would be $41 bil­lion per year.

Repub­li­cans have protest­ed Obama’s recent­ly unveiled cli­mate plan, say­ing that it would be impos­si­ble for the U.S. to make such deep cuts to CO2 emis­sions.

Even if the job-killing and like­ly ille­gal Clean Pow­er Plan were ful­ly imple­ment­ed, the Unit­ed States could not meet the tar­gets laid out in this pro­posed new plan,” Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell of Ken­tucky said in a state­ment.

Con­sid­er­ing that two-thirds of the U.S. fed­er­al gov­ern­ment hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Pow­er Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our inter­na­tion­al part­ners should pro­ceed with cau­tion before enter­ing into a bind­ing, unat­tain­able deal,” McConnell said.

Democ­rats have backed Obama’s plan to reduce emis­sions. The White House says this plan will gal­va­nize inter­na­tion­al sup­port behind a glob­al cli­mate treaty — one they plan to impose with­out con­gres­sion­al approval.

This ambi­tious tar­get is ground­ed in inten­sive analy­sis of cost-effec­tive car­bon pol­lu­tion reduc­tions achiev­able under exist­ing law and will keep the Unit­ed States on the path­way to achieve deep econ­o­my-wide reduc­tions of 80 per­cent or more by 2050,” accord­ing to the White House.

The Administration’s steady efforts to reduce emis­sions will deliv­er ever-larg­er car­bon pol­lu­tion reduc­tions, pub­lic health improve­ments, and con­sumer sav­ings over time and pro­vide a firm foun­da­tion to meet the new U.S. tar­get,” the White House says.

Inter­na­tion­al diplo­mats are prepar­ing for a U.N. cli­mate sum­mit in Paris lat­er this year. Del­e­gates are expect­ed to agree to a suc­ces­sor agree­ment to the Kyoto Pro­to­col, but it’s unclear if this agree­ment will have more teeth than Kyoto did.