TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the EPA’s efforts to fight climate change in a case called West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency.

In a 6-3 ruling, conservative justices said that the EPA could not force generation shifting. Generation shifting is a process that requires power plants to transition from dirtier forms of energy, such as fossil fuels, to lower emitting forms of energy like solar and wind.

West Virginia challenged the Clean Power Plan – a rule developed by the Obama administration in 2015 – but which was repealed and was not being employed by the Biden administration. The fact that the Supreme Court took the case, even though the rule was not in effect, is unusual and led many to believe the court was looking to make a bold and broad statement.

Although the court did rule against EPA, the decision was narrow and not broad. This means the EPA can still regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other pollution coming from power plants, but they will need to come up with a different plan.

This was no doubt a blow to society’s efforts to combat climate change, but not nearly as sweeping a decision as environmentalists feared it may be. This is not to say that whatever future plan EPA comes up with won’t also be challenged and reversed in court. But for now EPA maintains much of its regulatory power.

WFLA’s Climate Specialist Jeff Berardelli spoke to his former Climate Law Professor Michael Gerrard, from Columbia University, about the decision. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Berardelli: Does that preclude the EPA from coming up with a new plan? 

Gerrard: No absolutely not. The Supreme court did not take away EPA’s overall power to regulate greenhouse gases they just said that this one particular method was no good.

Berardelli:  Do you feel that the Supreme Court is tying the hands of the government given that Congress is having a hard time doing anything at all, let along passing climate change legislation? 

Gerrard: You know Congress hasn’t passed a major new environmental law in 32 years, it has been paralyzed since then. And we are, as you alluded to, running out of time to deal with climate change. We need to do everything we can, as quickly as we can. It is not helpful for one hand to be tied behind EPA’s back.

Electricity generation makes up about 25% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year. That is slightly less than transportation and slightly more than industry.

Greenhouse gas emissions by sector. Source: EPA

In a new Yale / George Mason Politics and Global Warming Poll, only 14% of voters say that the US government is doing a good job at combating climate change.

Source: Yale/ George Mason

But how well is the US really doing? The answer: Not well.

An independent monitoring tool called the Climate Change Performance Index keeps track of how well countries are doing to combat climate change. The rating takes into account a country’s greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of renewable energy it has, and the effectiveness of its climate policy.

Countries like Denmark and the United Kingdom do decently well, ranking in the top 5, while the US, Canada, Russia and Saudi Arabia fall near the bottom with a very low rating.

Source: CCPI

It should be noted that no major nations are doing enough to limit warming to the Paris Agreement goal of less than 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming. With the current climate policies in place, the Earth is set to warm around twice that – 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 – a magnitude that may prove to be devastating to the stability of human civilizations and much of the life on Earth.