Nov 8, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Report: Drastic changes needed for U.S. to stymie climate change's effects

John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during the CEO Summit of the Americas hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, California, US, on Thursday, June 9, 2022.

John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, during a June event in Los Angeles. Photo: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. needs to make much bigger greenhouse gas emissions cuts to meet the Biden administration's climate goal of realizing a net-zero economy by 2050, a new government report warns.

Why it matters: The National Climate Assessment is a congressionally mandated report that's the most comprehensive and authoritative federal climate analysis of the U.S. region by region, with specific projections for economic sectors and ecosystems.

  • The draft report, published Monday as world leaders gather for the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, documents the harm global warming is already causing to regions across the U.S.

State of play: "Increasingly frequent and severe wildfire and drought in the Southwest threaten agricultural worker health, reduce cattle production, and devastate wineries," the report notes.

  • Small businesses in the Southeast and U.S. Caribbean "are already confronting higher costs of goods and services and potential closures as they struggle to recover from the effects of compounding extreme weather events."
  • Lower corn yields and damage to specialty crops such as apples that farmers in the Midwest are facing have been "linked to rapid shifts between wet and dry conditions and stresses" from climate-change induced increases in pests and pathogens.
  • "In Alaska, climate change has already played a role in major fishery disasters caused by diminished fish catch and severe economic damages," according to the report.

By the numbers: The U.S. cut greenhouse gas emissions by 12% from 2007- 2019, driven by the renewable energy sector and better efficiency, per the report.

  • Emissions need to drop by over 6% every year to meet the target of net-zero by 2050.

The bottom line: "The things Americans value most are at risk," the draft report warns.

  • "Many of the harmful impacts that people across the country are already experiencing will worsen as warming increases, and new risks will emerge."

Go deeper: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health

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