What will you be doing in 2025? The United States will be producing 26 percent less climate-changing pollution in 2025 than it did in 2005.

That’s the pledge the United States is making to 195 partner nations in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international forum charged with hammering out a plan to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Forest fires, like this in Chile in March, are another expected consequence of climate change. (© AP Images)
Forest fires, like this one in Chile in March, are expected to worsen as a consequence of climate change. (© AP Images)

Those gases contribute to climate change, glacial meltdown, sea-level rise and extreme weather events. Together, scientists predict, those trends will have disastrous effects on ecosystems, agriculture, public health, clean water supplies and other systems that support human life.

On March 31 the Obama administration submitted to the UNFCCC its targets to cut emissions at least 26 percent by 2025, joining similar commitments recently made by other nations.

“This is a global challenge,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “and an effective solution will require countries around the world to do their part to reduce emissions and bring about a global clean-energy future.”

In total, countries that produce more than 50 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions have announced their targets.

  • China committed to stop emissions increases by 2030 and to boost its use of clean fuels to around 20 percent of total energy consumption by the same year.
  • The European Union, with 28 member nations, aims to cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Mexico plans to stop emission increases by 2026, and is working toward a climate policy accord with the United States.

Secretary Kerry urged other nations to come forward with similar commitments to reduce carbon emissions in the months remaining before a year-end UNFCCC meeting in Paris. Participating nations aim to forge a comphrehensive agreement for greenhouse gas reductions at that time.

Vehicles built in recent years meet higher fuel-efficiency and lower emissions standards to reduce pollution. (© AP Images)

Gabon, Norway, Russia and Switzerland are among other nations that have submitted their targets to the UNFCCC.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change have been priorities for the Obama administration. It has:

  • Invested more than $80 billion in clean energy.
  • Raised vehicle fuel-economy standards.
  • Strengthened energy-efficiency standards for buildings systems.
  • Proposed guidelines for existing power plants that would reduce emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The U.S. target submitted to the UNFCCC would double the nation’s rate of carbon reduction from 1.2 percent annually over the last decade to up to 2.8 percent annually after 2020.