WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Trump administration's plans to roll back climate change regulations could boost US carbon emissions by over 200 million tonnes a year by 2025, according to a report on Tuesday (March 5) prepared for state attorneys general.
The increase from the world's second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter behind China would hobble global efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, which scientists say is caused by burning fossil fuels and will lead to devastating sea-level rise, droughts and more frequent powerful storms.
"The Trump administration's actions amount to a virtual surrender to climate change," said the report by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, released at a gathering of the National Association for Attorneys General in Washington.
The report from the research group, based out of New York University's law school, analysed the impact of rolling back six major regulations related to climate change that President Donald Trump is seeking to rework to unfetter business.
They include national vehicle tailpipe standards and the Obama-era Clean Power Plan to limit emissions from power plants, among others focused on major polluter industries.
More than a dozen state attorneys general, including those from Maryland, New York and Massachusetts, are challenging the administration on their rollbacks in court.
California, for example, is leading a coalition of 21 states in challenging the administration's rollback of tailpipe standards. Weakening those standards will lead to an additional 16 million to 34 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2025, according to the report.
It also estimated that American drivers would pay between US$193 billion (S$261 billion) and US$236 billion dollars in added fuel costs by 2035 without the national clean car standard.
The Trump administration has said it wants to reduce the emissions standard targets for vehicles because sticking to them would make automobiles too expensive.
The Trump administration's Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE), which replaced the Clean Power Plan, would also result in a big jump in emissions along with a higher number of premature deaths from poor air quality, the report said.
The administration has countered that its revised rule would reduce emissions in much the same way as the Clean Power Plan, but in a way that strictly adheres to the federal Clean Air Act.
The six regulations the centre examined provided the "most important near-term opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight against climate change," the report said.