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2020 Prospective

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Dec 31, 2019 at 6:00 AM
Climate Change

“Predictions are hard, especially about the future.”, Yogi Berra, American philosopher

The new year, 2020, is an election year in the US. While there are numerous issues which divide the two parties, climate change is sure to be a very significant point of contention. The current Administration has formally announced US withdrawal from the Paris Accords, which will take effect on November 4th, 2020. However, all of the opposition candidates are in favor of the US remaining in the Accords; and, should the opposition win the presidency, the US withdrawal would likely be reversed immediately.

The current Administration has also halted US contributions to the UN Green climate Fund. This decision has significant budgetary ramifications, since the US contribution was to have risen to $10 billion annually in 2020; and, probably to $100 billion per year by 2030 as the total GCF funding approached $400 billion per year. The UN is also now seeking approximately $400 billion per year in funding for adaptation in addition to the original GCF mitigation funding goal. It is highly unlikely that funding will approach these goals, even if a new administration were to rejoin the Accords and restore GCF funding.

The focus on climate change will likely be heightened by the opposition party’s declarations of a “climate emergency” and charges of intransigence on the part of the current Administration regarding heroic responses to this “climate emergency”. Several of the leading opposition candidates are also supportive of the “Green New Deal”, which surrounds the climate change issue with a cornucopia of progressive proposals, including free healthcare, free college, student loan forgiveness, guaranteed minimum income, income redistribution, building retrofit for energy efficiency and social, climate and economic justice.

The current Administration will likely move to withdraw or dramatically revise the 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding regarding CO2, which is the basis for much of the regulatory and legislative activity regarding climate change. This effort will be aggressively resisted by the environmental community and is unlikely to be successful in 2020.

State and local efforts to terminate operation of coal and nuclear generators, resist coal export facility expansion, resist electric transmission and gas and oil pipeline expansion, halt expansion of gas service in new construction and otherwise hinder expansion of fossil energy consumption will continue and expand. The DOE program to advance the goal of deep decarbonization and energy system electrification will also continue, absent Administration actions to halt the effort.

The US will continue to reduce CO2 emissions, largely as the result of replacement of coal generation wit natural gas combined-cycle generation. Meanwhile, China, India and other developing nations will continue to increase their CO2 emissions, favoring economic growth and prosperity over climate change austerity and deprivation.

The IPCC will develop its Sixth Assessment Report and release the CMIP6 model ensemble. The SAR Summary for Policymakers will likely reiterate and reinforce the “climate emergency” meme. It appears that the CMIP6 models will project even more rapid temperature anomaly increases; and, thus deviate even more rapidly from observations.

There will almost certainly be a COP26, which will present yet another opportunity for the climate change community to wine, dine and accomplish little else. The UN will continue agitating for some form of global governance and for increased developed country efforts to transfer wealth to the developing nations, where it would likely be squandered.

                “Those who will not learn from history are bound to repeat it.”, George Santayana