Every country in the world (other than the U.S.) has signed the Paris Climate Agreement, a landmark treaty designed to curtail the effects of global warming. The core of the treaty is the goal to limit total warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Any more warming than that would have catastrophic consequences for the entire planet and every person living there.
But a report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives a grim prognosis about reaching that goal. In an environmental impact statement published in July, the NHTSA predicts nearly twice as much warming as the maximum allowed by the Paris Agreement: about 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or nearly 4 degrees Celsius.
What’s more, the NHTSA uses that extreme warming prediction as a reason to justify rolling back environmental regulations aimed at curbing emissions from cars and trucks. Essentially, the administration’s argument is that future warming will be so severe that there’s no point in doing anything to stop it.
The analysis was written to defend a proposal by President Trump to freeze fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels. The move has been widely criticized by environmental activists, state legislators, and auto industry representatives. Trump’s ruling is specifically designed to repeal one of President Obama’s signature policies designed to fight climate change.
The NHTSA analysis casts some doubt on the ability of Obama’s regulation to reduce warming, however. According to the analysis, there’s no significant impact from the regulation on warming whether the regulation is repealed or not, so the administration is arguing there’s no reason not to repeal it.
Even if this argument was valid, though, there are plenty of benefits to Obama’s regulation that would warrant keeping it. For instance, it incentivizes automakers to build vehicles with greater fuel efficiency standards, saving car owners money at the pump. And even if this single regulation isn’t enough to meaningfully alter global temperatures a century from now, small measures like this are crucial to combating climate change.
Source: Washington Post
Originally posted ion Popular Mechanics