The most important question for America’s future is whether we are going to fight the climate war with fossil fuels, or with renewable energy.
The answer is a resounding yes.
But we need to begin with the fact that we have a fossil fuel crisis.
And this is not a new crisis.
We’ve seen it before.
But the recent explosion of carbon emissions is different.
In fact, it is unprecedented in our history.
We know what is at stake.
For more than half a century, the United States has been the largest carbon emitter in the world.
That has led to global climate change that threatens life, liberty, and prosperity.
The consequences of this crisis have been devastating for everyone.
And the damage is continuing to worsen.
Climate change has already affected our economy, our health, our environment, and the environment itself.
It is the greatest threat to our future.
But that is not all.
In the last decade, our emissions have grown by about 400 percent, a rate that would be almost impossible for us to keep up with.
And our carbon pollution has grown by more than 100 times in the last 40 years, while the world economy has grown only about half as fast.
As we continue to build new infrastructure, we are increasingly finding that our carbon footprint is also increasing.
We need to take action now to reverse this trajectory.
To start, we must take action on carbon pollution.
As part of the Paris Agreement, we pledged to reduce our emissions by 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
But even this modest goal was met.
This means that in 2030, the U.S. will have to reduce its emissions by more in every year than it did in the entire 1980s and 1990s combined.
If we can meet this target, we will still be far above 2005 levels.
But if we are not doing more, by 2030 we will be well below the 2020 level.
In addition, because our emissions are so high, it’s hard to know exactly how much of our economy will be affected.
For example, if the U tolle rises to 10 percent of the economy, and if we continue the same level of emissions, the impact on the economy will likely be much larger.
In that case, even with a 10 percent emissions reduction, we would still face a larger increase in carbon pollution than the entire industrialized world.
This scenario is far from certain.
And so, even though the Paris agreement has been adopted, many of the targets have not yet been implemented.
These include measures to slow climate change and curb emissions, such as reducing CO2 emissions from new power plants and vehicles, and establishing a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of CO2.
But as we prepare for our first 100 days in office, it appears that many of these ambitious targets have yet to be fully implemented.
While the Paris accord commits the U, in fact, to a total reduction of emissions by 30 percent below pre-industrial levels by 2030, it does not go as far as to say that emissions will fall by 40 percent by 2030.
In reality, emissions will still increase, but will not be as great.
The reality is that we are already overprepared.
To put this in perspective, the world will need to reduce CO2 by roughly 17 percent by the end of this century.
But it would take us nearly five decades to achieve that goal.
To be realistic, if we keep warming at this rate, the globe could face a global catastrophe as extreme as the one we now see.
For decades, we have been burning more fossil fuels than any other country in the developed world.
But these fossil fuels have created a huge carbon footprint.
While it would be possible to cut carbon pollution in half in the next decade, the actual reductions required to make this possible would take decades.
By 2030, there will be more CO2 in the atmosphere than there was in the industrial era.
And that will mean we are now at risk of a new, much greater and far more catastrophic global catastrophe.
That is because, even as emissions are declining, the climate itself is changing.
It’s getting hotter.
The planet’s average temperature has been rising for about 2.5 years now.
The increase is not evenly distributed across the globe, but it is becoming more extreme on the East Coast and on the West Coast.
On average, the West is warming faster than the East, and this trend has accelerated in recent years.
By the end or mid-century, global temperatures will be rising by about 1.7 degrees Celsius (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
This is the most dramatic increase on record, and it is expected to lead to extreme weather events, increased sea level rise, and other negative effects on our economy and our environment.
The only way to stop this trend is to shift away from fossil fuels.
By 2050, we need only cut emissions by about 4 percent of our current consumption by 2030 to avoid a doubling of our emissions in a century.