President Trump’s executive action Tuesday to begin unraveling the Clean Power Plan may also signal America’s de facto exit from the landmark Paris climate treaty — former President Barack Obama’s signature environmental achievement.
The Clean Power Plan, the first set of national limits on greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, is crucial to the U.S. meeting President Obama’s pledge to cut emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025.
While Mr. Trump has yet to formally pull out of the Paris deal — a nonbinding agreement with no enforcement mechanisms other than public shaming — his move Tuesday essentially guarantees the U.S. won’t meet the ambitious target.
“It was extraordinarily unlikely we would’ve met President Obama’s Paris pledge under the best of circumstances. But clearly, if the Trump administration goes through with what’s on the table so far, it will be impossible to meet the pledge,” said Stephen Eule, vice president for climate and technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
The Clean Power Plan, which was stayed by the Supreme Court last year and has not gone into full effect, calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the power sector by 2030, and would greatly shrink coal’s share of electricity generation in the process.