EPA Chief: Climate Change Is Certain But You Can't Predict the Future

By Penny Starr | January 7, 2016 | 4:05pm EST
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 7, 2016. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – When asked Thursday about federal data showing that fossil fuels will provide about 80 percent of the world’s energy needs through 2040 and that U.S. carbon emissions are at the lowest they’ve been in decades, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator said that it’s impossible to predict the future.

CNSNews.com asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, “According to the Energy Information Administration – although alternative and renewables are growing slightly – fossil fuels will still account for 80 percent of U.S. energy needs through 2040. Federal data also shows that U.S. carbon emissions are at almost a 20-year low right now. How do those facts fit into the picture the EPA is painting of the U.S. energy landscape?”

“I think just as climate change is a long-term issue – clearly addressing that is, but I don’t think anyone disputes the direction in which the world is heading,” McCarthy said at an event focused on the threat of climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

“How quickly it gets there – including in the U.S. – is going to be up for debate, but what I always have to constantly remind people – and this is again, maybe, an infatuation with new technology for me – is that no one could have predicted what the world looked [sic] like today 20 years ago,” she said. “No one. Zero.”

McCarthy then compared phone technology to the transformation from fossil fuel to other energy sources.

“If you told me 30 years ago there wouldn’t be a phone in my house, sitting on a wall, I would have thought you were nuts, right?” McCarthy said. “And now nobody is investing in land lines. Would you?

“And so the world changes dramatically, and I think in the energy world, it’s not going to be different, because people are looking for continued opportunity for investment,” she said.

“Frankly, a lot of the investment that would have been made before is so old and has not been invested in that now there is an opportunity for significant investment [in alternative energy], and that is going to be, I think, in a direction which we are seeing the energy world is heading,” McCarthy said.

“So I think you’re going to see an escalation of that transition moving forward,” she said.


McCarthy did not directly respond to the statistics on U.S. carbon emissions. According to the EIA, electricity production reached a 27-year low in April 2015.

Carbon emissions from U.S. power plants are at near 20-year lows, according to the American Petroleum Institute 2016 State of American Energy report.

McCarthy spoke about the United Nations climate change agreement that the Obama administration signed onto late last year in Paris. McCarthy did not provide specifics in her remarks about how the U.S. would comply with its agreement commitments, including the need for Congress to approve funding that was promised to help developing nations address climate change.

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