Sep 18, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Tallying Trump's climate changes

Reproduced from Rhodium Climate Service; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Rhodium Climate Service; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Trump administration's scuttling or weakening of key Obama-era climate policies could together add 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent to the atmosphere by 2035, a Rhodium Group analysis concludes.

Why it matters: The 1.8 gigatons is "more than the combined energy emissions of Germany, Britain and Canada in one year," per the New York Times, which first reported on the study.

  • "This cumulative impact is equivalent to nearly one-third of all U.S. emissions in 2019," Rhodium notes.
  • They still see U.S. emissions being lower in 2035 than today, but it's a smaller reduction that would have occurred absent the rollbacks.
  • The research is an effort to look more holistically at a several separate policy moves and their effect on the country's long-term emissions.

Threat level: "[T]he rollbacks we consider here are far from exhaustive. The current administration has reversed many more Obama-era rules with climate implications that are difficult to assess," the analysis states.

How it works: Rhodium looked at several different policies, as the chart above shows. They include

  • The decision to weaken Obama-era vehicle mileage and CO2 standards through the mid-2020s.
  • Stripping California's power to impose tailpipe CO2 rules that a number of other states follow.
  • Easing regulation of the potent planet-warming gas methane from oil-and-gas development.

What we're watching: The election and the courts. Joe Biden has pledged to reverse President Trump's moves and impose even stronger emissions standards and policies than the Obama administration.

  • Also, a number of states and activist groups are challenging key Trump administration regulatory changes in court.

Go deeper: Trump's climate change rollbacks to drive up U.S. emissions (Politico)

Go deeper