One Step Forward, One Step Back Again: Assessing the Consequences of Three Decades’ Climate Gridlock in the US

IIEA2nd April 20191min
This IIEA report reviews three decades of US Federal climate “gridlock” and estimates the damage caused to the global economy from “unnecessary” greenhouse gas emissions.

Authors: Joseph Curtin, Max Münchmeyer

As the world begins preparation for the UN’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2019, this IIEA report reviews three decades of US Federal climate “gridlock” and estimates the damage caused to the global economy from “unnecessary” greenhouse gas emissions.

The paper is divided into two sections. The first reviews three decades of American climate policy within the context of climate targets agreed, and quantifies the emissions gap over the period in relation to these targets. It discusses three key factors underpinning legislative gridlock: partisanship, Senate rules and procedures, and corporate lobbying.

The second section explores the economic and legal implications of this analysis. It estimates the damage to the global economy caused by “unnecessary” emissions between 1992 and 2025, and proposes “lack of progress to meet targets” as a new metric for determining climate “responsibility”. Finally, this report assesses the legal implications from these results for the Federal Government and major corporations, considering the prospects for international and domestic litigation. The report concludes by briefly exploring the implications for advancing climate legislation post-2020.

The paper can be downloaded here.