The latest Clean Energy Future report (tagline: Protecting the climate, creating jobs, saving money) reveals how we can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and rely completely on renewable energy sources by 2050, all while adding hundreds of thousands of jobs to the economy and becoming a leader in environmentalism. Surprising? The report isn’t the only one out there with the same optimism for the US. Is it really possible for us to make such a big turn-around?
The Clean Energy Future plan was released by Labor Network for Sustainability and 350.org, and bolstered with research from economist Frank Ackerman of Synapse Energy Economics. Assuming that costs for alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, continue to drop and we cut down on our overall energy consumption with the help of more efficient methods, the plan has a great chance of becoming reality. The report does not take into consideration the innovation of new renewable energy technologies, which will more than likely change the game within the next 35 years. Just thinking about our technological advances since 1980 feels like comparing the modern world with an ancient civilization – there will surely be new and exciting advancements that could bring us closer to 100 percent renewable energy even sooner.
One of the main criticisms of any crusade to switch to clean energy is the threat of job loss. The Clean Energy Future plan assures readers that over 500,000 jobs per year could be created in various sectors, including energy efficiency programs, renewable energy production, and auto manufacturing (specifically electric cars). In the last four years of the plan, up to 800,000 new jobs per year are projected.
This isn’t the first time someone has proposed a plan to reach completely renewable energy by 2050. Stanford’s Atmosphere and Energy Program published a study this year spelling out how each US state can work toward the 2050 goal, as regulatory concerns and natural resources are different in each state. The Clean Energy Future Plan is in agreement, acknowledging the individual hurdles states must face to make this plan a reality. With such strong voices advocating for a nationwide overhaul of how we produce energy, hopefully it’s only a matter of time before everyone gets on board.