- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2020

No Paris? No problem, as far as the Trump administration is concerned.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported Monday that U.S. emissions from major industrial sources declined by nearly 5% in 2019, prompting administrator Andrew Wheeler to take a victory lap and a swipe at the Paris climate accord.

“President Trump was right to leave the Paris Climate Accords,” Mr. Wheeler said in a statement. “We have done more to reduce our GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions over the past four years than our international competitors who cling to the ceremonial and arbitrary agreement.”

The EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program found continued overall reductions in air pollution from nearly 8,000 large facilities, including power plants, oil and gas producers and refineries, iron and steel mills, and landfills.

“These most recent data are consistent with the decade long trend in which total reported GHG emissions from large facilities decreased by more than 14% from 2011 to 2019,” the EPA said in a press release. “Notably, this downward trend in reported in GHG emissions has occurred even as the program began tracking more sources during this timeframe.”

The Trump administration stopped participating in the 2015 Paris agreement in June 2017 and withdrew on Nov. 4, the earliest possible date to leave the accord after giving formal notice a year earlier.

Despite the administration’s decision to exit the accord, U.S. emissions have continued to decline, driven by the move from coal to natural gas in power-plant generation as well as increases in solar and wind.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden has said he would reenter the Paris accord on the first day of his presidency. Mr. Biden has been declared the winner of the 2020 presidential race by major media outlets, while the Trump campaign is legally challenging the vote count in several states.

The Paris agreement, which has been ratified by 188 countries, seeks to limit global temperature increase this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, from pre-industrial levels.

The Climate Action Tracker said last week that the Paris goal would be “within striking distance” if a Biden administration follows through with the candidate’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and other countries do the same.

“Coupled with China’s pledge to bring emissions to net-zero before 2060, and the EU, Japan and South Korea’s commitments to reach net-zero by 2050, a tipping point is being approached that puts the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C limit within reach,” said the tracker in a Saturday statement.

The International Energy Agency reported in February that the United States led the world in decreasing emissions in 2019 with a 2.9% decline, the largest of any country, while the European Union and Japan also recorded declines.

Overall global emissions remained unchanged as air pollution in China increased and coal demand in Asia continued to expand.

The 2019 figures predate the 2020 novel coronavirus shutdowns, which also resulted in estimated reductions in U.S. and global emissions.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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