Evaluating the US Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization Amidst Early Century Uncertainty

Climate Policy
2017 17(8), 1046-1056


The recent change in US presidential administrations has introduced significant uncertainty about both domestic and international policy support for continued reductions in GHG emissions. This brief analysis estimates the potential climate ramifications of changing US leadership, contrasting the Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization (MCS) released under the Obama Administration, with campaign statements, early executive actions, and prevailing market conditions to estimate potential emission pathways under the Trump Administration. The analysis highlights areas where GHG reductions are less robust to changing policy conditions, and offers brief recommendations for addressing emissions in the interim. It specifically finds that continued reductions in the electricity sector are less vulnerable to changes in federal policy than those in the built environment and land use sectors. Given the long-lived nature of investments in these latter two sectors, however, opportunities for near-term climate action by willing cities, states, private landowners, and non-profit organizations warrant renewed attention in this time of climate uncertainty.