Oil Is the Biggest Source of Greenhouse Gas Pollution in the U.S.

Takeaway: we need to focus not just on coal and gas, but also on reducing carbon pollution from vehicles.
  • Oil accounted for 43% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in 2015, exceeding both coal and natural gas, which each accounted for 28%.

  • In 2016, natural gas is expected to emit more GHGs than coal for the first time since 1978.

The U.S.'s Climate Change Target Is Way Weaker than Europe's

Takeaway: the U.S. needs to pass stronger policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. and Europe's climate targets (% below 1990 levels)

The U.S.'s percentage reduction is far smaller than Europe's for both 2020 and 2025.

Americans Eat 4 Burgers Per Week on Average. Cutting That to No More Than One Per Week Would Really Help the Climate.

  • The average American currently eats over a pound of beef each week (roughly equal to 4 burgers), and beef is between five and ten times worse for the climate than chicken.

  • The U.S. produces one-fifth of the world's beef, which is responsible for nearly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Thus, reducing beef consumption to 1 burger per week (the maximum amount consistent with a sustainable global emissions level) would eliminate 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Choice: Cutting Emissions Avoids Risk of Losing All of Hawaii's Coral Reefs

  • A 2015 study finds that reducing global greenhouse gas emissions can save nearly half of Hawaii's coral reefs, whereas failing to reduce emissions will result in a complete loss of Hawaii's coral reefs.

  • About 38% of the ocean around Hawaii is covered by coral reefif we don't reduce emissions, Hawaii will risk losing all of its coral reefs by 2100, but if we do cut emissions, Hawaii would keep about 15% coral reef cover.

  • Reducing global emissions would provide between $10 and $30 billion in benefits to Hawaii between today and 2100 due to increased tourism and sustained local fisheries.

Converting Every Single Coal Power Plant to Natural Gas Wouldn't Do Enough to Solve Climate Change

Takeaway: we need to transition from coal to carbon-free energy, not natural gas, in order to prevent the worst climate impacts.
  • A 2011 paper finds that if the world converted all coal power plants to natural gas by 2050, the resulting reduction in global temperatures would not be big enough to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

  • Even if, optimistically, no natural gas leaked into the atmosphere during its production and distribution, the resulting temperature reduction from a complete coal-to-gas shift would still be too small to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.