EPA’s New Fuel Regulations Will Avert 0.0026 Degrees Of Warming

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The EPA’s new carbon dioxide regulations for heavy trucks is meant to help the U.S. meet its goal of reducing emissions to fight global warming.

There’s just one problem: CO2 regulations on heavy trucks will have little to no impact on global warming over the next 85 years, according to the EPA’s own analysis.

The EPA says limiting carbon dioxide from heavy trucks will reduce emissions by more than 1 billion metric tons by 2050. Cutting CO2, the agency says, will create up to $34 billion in “climate benefits” along with up to $40 billion from reducing traditional pollutants. Regulating heavy trucks are part of the Obama administration’s goal of reducing U.S. CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Sounds like Obama administration regulations will accomplish a lot. Well, not really. The EPA’s own analysis found that by 2100 “the global mean temperature is projected to be reduced by approximately 0.0026 to 0.0065°C, and global mean sea level rise is projected to be reduced by approximately 0.023 to 0.057 cm.”

Source: U.S. EPA

Source: U.S. EPA

To put that into context, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts temperature rises of between 1.8 and 4.8 degrees Celsius and expects sea levels to rise 23 to 56 centimeters from 1990 to 2100. That means CO2 regulations for heavy trucks would only reduce warming by a fraction of what it’s projected to be — and that’s assuming EPA’s models are correct.

Despite the rule’s small impact on global warming, the Obama administration has said it’s necessary to meet the president’s CO2 reduction goals. The administration also touted the positive impacts this rule will have on fuel economy for heavy trucks.

“We’re delivering big time on President Obama’s call to cut carbon pollution,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “With emission reductions weighing in at 1 billion tons, this proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money; and at the same time spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul.”

The rule is coupled with increased fuel economy standards from the Transportation Department which are expected to save vehicle owners $170 billion, along billions more in savings for  families and businesses from cheaper transportation in the coming decades.

Fuel economy aside, the EPA acknowledges its rule alone will not have much impact on global temperatures. The agency “recognizes that this one national action alone will not prevent it.” It’s part of President Obama’s overall plan to cut emissions 80 percent. But would an 80 percent cut even have much of an impact on warming?

In short, not really. Assuming U.S. emissions aren’t dwarfed by China and India, an 80 percent reduction in CO2 output would reduce warming 0.106 degrees Celsius by 2100.

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