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Leading the Effort to Mitigate Climate Change


FILE - Smoke rising from the stacks of the La Cygne Generating Station coal-fired power plant in La Cygne, Kansas.

The target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels in the year 2025.

Reducing the emissions of pollutants that are causing climate change has been high on President Barack Obama’s priority list for a long time. Upon entering office, Mr. Obama began to take a number of steps to start the process, such as investing in clean energy technologies, improving fuel economy, cutting carbon pollution and increasingly integrating the issue of global climate change into U.S. foreign policy, thus raising the issue on the international stage.

On March 31st, the Obama Administration took the next big step forward, submitting to the United Nations a U.S. target for cutting domestic greenhouse gas pollution over the next decade. The target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels in the year 2025.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation, and the United States is committed to playing a leading role in the global effort to address it,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a written statement. “Today the United States took an important step towards its objective by formally submitting our commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

The announcement stems from last November’s meeting between President Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, during which both leaders made a historic joint announcement of their respective emissions reductions targets, and pledged to work together to address global climate change. At that time, China committed to limit its greenhouse gas emissions, pledging that carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030, and to increase its share of non-fossil energy consumption to 20 percent.

The U.S. and China joined the European Union which announced its own target to cut emissions 40 percent by 2030, and other countries. In total, countries accounting for more than half of global emissions have now announced their targets to reduce climate pollution. And last week, Mexico announced its own strong measures to curb emissions, including a commitment to peak by 2026.

“This is a global challenge, and an effective solution will require countries around the world to do their part to reduce emissions and bring about a global clean-energy future,” wrote Secretary of State Kerry. “That’s the only way we’ll meet this challenge, and it’s the only way we’ll honor our shared responsibility to future generations.”

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