U.S. Releases Long-Term Strategy to Net-Zero

On November 1, the United States issued a new long-term strategy explaining how it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.  

The Long-Term Strategy of the United States: Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 comes on the heels of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, also known as COP26, where over 120 heads of state and thousands of participants have gathered for global climate negotiations.

Signed by John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and Gina McCarthy, U.S. National Climate Advisor, the strategy outlines multiple pathways to meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The strategy commits the United States to rapidly expanding the availability of technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps and critical investments over the next three decades in clean power, infrastructure, and industrial transformation.

In terms of targets, the United States believes this strategy will keep the country “ahead of the trajectory required” to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

More ambitiously, the strategy claims that United States will reduce its emissions by 50% or more below 2005 levels by 2030, and from there, well on target to net-zero by mid-century.

While the 65-page report outlines multiple paths to net-zero over the next three decades, the strategy argues that these involve “five key transformations.”

  1. Decarbonize electricity: 100% clean electricity by 2035.
  2. Electrify end uses and switch to other clean fuels: investing in hydrogen and sustainable biofuels, i.e., clean fuels where electrification may pose a challenge such as “aviation, shipping, and some industrial processes.”
  3. Cut energy waste: prioritize energy efficient buildings, manufacturing processes, and consumer products such as appliances to cut energy waste.
  4. Reduce methane and other C02 emissions: signing the Global Methane Pledge, which committed the United States and other signatories to “reduce non-C02 gases such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), nitrous oxide (N20), and others” by 30% by 2030.
  5. Scale up C02 removal: certain emissions will be difficult to completely decarbonize by midcentury, such as agriculture. Thus, investments in new “processes and technologies” will be needed to remove C02 from the atmosphere to achieve net-zero.

The strategy also calls for a coordinated whole-of-government approach, or “four strategic pillars” to meet these five key transformations.

  1. Federal leadership. The federal government will play a key role in driving investment, incentivizing market transformation, and promulgating and enforcing “new and existing” climate regulations. 
  2. Innovation. While supporting the rapid deployment and expansion of new technologies, federal policies will support the research and development of “new carbon-free technologies and processes from the lab to U.S. factories to the market.”
  3. Non-federal leadership. Given the scale and immediacy of the crisis, “Tribal governments, states, cities, counties, and others” must work together in conjunction with the federal government to scale back the impact of climate change.
  4. All-of-society action. A broad call to action from “universities, cultural institutions, investors, businesses, and other non-governmental organizations” to work together to reach the 2050 target.

While the US plan differs in some key ways from Canada’s Pan Canadian Framework, the plan appears to align in terms of targets and broad policy choices.  Details on electrification, alternative fuels and investments in energy efficiency will be examined more carefully once details are released.

Click here for access to the strategy document.

For more information, contact Stephen Chartrand at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 276, or email schartrand@hrai.ca.

Back to Newsletters