Mind the Gap: The Obama Administration’s International Climate Pledge Doesn’t Add Up

In recent testimony before Congress, the Energy Institute’s Karen Harbert took the Obama Administration to task for failing to explain how the country was supposed to meet the greenhouse gas emissions goal outlined in the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution—or INDC—it submitted to the United Nations.


The Obama Administration pledged that the United States will aim to slash its net greenhouse gas emissions 28%, below the 2005 level by 2025. Here’s the problem: The emissions reductions expected from the programs the administration has announced thus far don’t even come close to the 1,790 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2) needed. After analyzing the administration’s plans, we figure about 41% of the goal is still unexplained (see chart below).


Todd Stern, the administration’s chief climate negotiator, said recently that INDCs should be structured so that each nation’s proposed actions “can be readily understood and analyzed.” It would be nice if the administration adhered to its own modest standard.


For a fuller explanation of our analysis on the administration’s INDC, click here.