U.S. says to meet 2020 carbon emissions target

The United States is on the way to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, a U.S. government report said Thursday.

Average U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2011 fell to the lowest level for any three-year period since 1994-1996, said the 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report prepared by the State Department.

The total U.S. emissions are projected to be 4.6 percent lower than 2005 levels, given implementation of programs and measures in place as of September 2012 and current economic projections, the report said.

“The United States has already made significant progress, including doubling generation of electricity from wind and solar power and establishing historic new fuel economy standards,” the report said.

In June, President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon pollution, pledging to limit carbon emissions from the power sector and enhance action on energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.

“Through the President's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. will take a multi-faceted, multi-sector approach to find opportunities across the economy to enhance efficiency and reduce harmful pollution,” said the report.

According to the report, total U.S. emissions rose by 8 percent from 1990 through 2011 but saw a significant decline between 2005 and 2011, due to a combination of factors, including the economic downturn and fuel switching from coal to natural gas.

In 2009, Obama pledged that the United States would cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from the 2005 levels, or 4 percent below 1990 levels, which is used by most countries as a base year. The announcement drew criticism from the developing world, which says the U.S. has the money and technology to do more to combat climate change.