This year in April, the Biden administration announced renewed commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. The goal now is to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The goal is ambitious, but it is not a dream. According to a recently published analysis of existing climate models, it is more than possible with strong and immediate action.
Mainly focusing on the electricity sector, energy analysts have shown what initial steps need to be taken to triple the rate of the nation’s historic reductions.
Over the next decade, the authors argue that green policies need to be expanded so that the grid operates on 80 percent clean energy (double today’s levels). To meet this pace and scale of change, the paper suggests that the United States should focus on deploying already readily available technologies such as solar and wind power, as well as swapping heaters for heat pumps and maintaining the reliability of the grid.
While it’s nice to know that there are ways to expand clean energy by 2030, the current review is light on the details. It also suggests relying on technology that is not entirely appropriate, including large storage facilities for solar and wind and carbon capture technology, the latter of which has not been proven to operate on the large scales necessary.
Without government incentives, such as cost reductions and tax cuts for electric cars and renewable energy, the U.S. is likely to fail to deliver on its updated climate promise.
“Although such changes have costs, they also have major benefits,” the authors say to write“including immediate and localized benefits of air quality improvements – and current opportunities for a fairer distribution of both, which motivates further investigation.”
The U.S. electricity and transportation sectors are responsible for up to 89 percent of the emission reductions needed to meet the 2030 targets, most of which can be achieved through fuel transfers.
Wind and solar capacity will have to increase two to seven times more than they have in the past, while coal capacity will have to be reduced by 90 to 100 percent. This will require completely closing plants.
“The large decline in coal use also requires attention to a fair transition for individuals and communities affected by these changes and their complex political economy,” the authors note. to warn you.
If the United States can achieve this vast transition in the power sector, it could reach the nation 66 percent of the way to its 2030 goals.
The green energy changes could then ripple out into other sectors of the economy, helping to reduce carbon emissions across the board.
Electric vehicles (EVs) will be an important part of that transition. They are expected to increase from 4 percent of car sales in 2021 to more than 67 percent by 2030.
The Biden administration’s goal is to get EV sales to reach 50 percent by 2030, but models suggest that this may not be enough to achieve the required targets.
The costs will be huge, but so will the benefits. Some reports suggests that a 53 percent emission reduction by 2030 could save $ 140 billion a year. The health benefits alone could equal tens of billions of dollars annually by 2030.
“This study should give politicians and other energy stakeholders some level of comfort, showing that everyone 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 emission target of 2030 can be achieved, ” says energy analyst Nikit Abhyankar of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“With the right policies and infrastructure, we can reduce our emissions while saving US consumers billions of dollars and generating new jobs.”
We know what to do. Now we just need to do it.
The study was published in Science.