Anybody who’s paying attention has probably noticed that lots of choices being made in the world don’t align with the US goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The good news is, a new study says it’s still possible.
The straightforwardly named “Actions for reducing US emissions at least 50% by 2030” was just published in Science. The scientists and policy analysts involved compared six potential models of how the US could achieve this drastic cut—“which would represent a tripling of the pace of historical reductions,” according to the study abstract.
“This study should give policy makers and other energy stakeholders some level of comfort, by showing that everybody in the field is pointing in the same direction. The case for clean energy is stronger than ever before and our study shows that the 2030 emission target can be achieved,” said Nikit Abhyankar, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the study’s authors.
“With the right policies and infrastructure, we can reduce our emissions, while saving American consumers billions of dollars and generating new employment.” Key strategies, Abhyankar said, were to double renewable energy capacity every year and to transition mainly to electric vehicles within the next decade.
The study examined six different recently published techno-economic models simulating the operations of the U.S. energy system. Researchers found that all six models agreed on four important points. Since power generation and transportation are responsible for the majority of emissions, we need to boost the electricity grid from today’s 40% clean energy to 80%, and we need the majority of new vehicles on the road to be electric by 2030.
The study found that enacting new state and federal policies could be a bigger barrier than cost. In fact, using renewable energy to power the grid won’t be more expensive than using fossil fuels, and households may even save after switching to electric vehicles. In other good news, cleaner energy could prevent up to 200,000 premature deaths and save $800 billion in health and environmental costs by 2050, thanks to reducing pollution.
Now, if only the politicians can behave themselves like good little boys and girls long enough to enact policies for the greater good, we might all survive to enjoy the fresher air.
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