CIEL’s Reaction to the US Climate Commitment

For Immediate Release
March 31, 2015

Washington DC – Today, the United States announced that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels in 2025 as part of the new international climate agreement to be adopted in Paris this December.

Climate & Energy Program Director Niranjali Amerasinghe said:

As the country that bears the largest responsibility for total historic greenhouse gas emissions, the United States must lead in the fight against climate change. The proposed US contribution is an important step in tackling climate change, but it does not yet represent the country’s fair share in meeting the globally agreed goal of limiting temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. Analysis by Climate Action Tracker indicates that taking “equal cumulative emissions and historic responsibility” into account would require “much more stringent reductions” from the United States than it is offering today. We have an obligation to close that gap.

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United States has an obligation to demonstrate that it is taking the lead in efforts to mitigate climate change. The United States also has human rights obligations that require taking effective action to address climate change. Both the UNFCCC and the Human Rights Council have recognized that climate impacts are already affecting human rights. Urgent and ambitious action is needed to avoid the most catastrophic of impacts of climate change. This action includes more stringent emissions reduction goals; delivering on US financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund; and stronger regulation of corporate actors, such as major fossil fuel producers, whose activities both at home and abroad contribute to climate change.

We acknowledge the positive strides the US has taken on climate action in the last two years. However the US needs to do so much more to make the planet safe for present and future generations. We hope to see stronger leadership at the climate negotiations over the coming year.