Some countries such as the United States have set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030. Well, are we on track to succeed? A new study by team of scientists and policy analysts suggests that there are multiple pathways to achieve this goal–but big commitments need to be made, immediately.
The study that focuses on the United States stresses that the emissions can be reduced with the right policies and infrastructure. One of the s authors Nikit Abhyankar said that the study would give policy makers and other energy stakeholders some level of comfort. “The case for clean energy is stronger than ever before and our study shows that the 2030 emission target can be achieved,” he said.
Abhyankar is a scientist in the Electricity Markets & Policy Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). He notes that the most urgent actions will be to double the amount of renewable capacity built each year and transition predominately to electric vehicles within the next decade or so. With the right policies and infrastructure, we can reduce our emissions, while saving American consumers billions of dollars and generating new employment,” he said.
The scientist pointed out that reducing GHG emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 would put the United States on a path to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The study, published in Science, consolidates findings from six recently published techno-economic models that simulate the U.S. energy system operations in comprehensive detail. According to the authors, the separate models all agree on four major points:
- As majority of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from power generation and transportation, the electricity grid needs to run on 80% clean energy up from today’s 40%) to reduce overall emissions by 50%. Moreover, the majority of vehicles sold by 2030 need to be electric, Other important sources of GHG emissions reduction include electrification of buildings and industries.
- The primary barrier to increased alternative energy use will not be cost, it will be enacting new policies. A coordinated policy response between states and the federal government will be necessary to succeed.
- The advances in wind, solar, and energy storage technologies, powering the electric grid with renewables will not be more expensive, and electric vehicles could save every household up to $1,000 per year in net benefits.
- A clean-energy transition would reduce air pollution, prevent up to 200,000 premature deaths, and avoid up to $800 billion in environmental and health costs through 2050. Many of the health benefits will occur in communities of color and frontline communities that are disproportionately exposed to vehicle, power plant, and industrial pollution.
“Our study provides the first detailed roadmap for how the United States can reach its 50% greenhouse gas emissions-reduction target by 2030,” said lead author John Bistline, program manager in the Energy Systems and Climate Analysis Group at the Electric Power Research Institute. “This will require tripling the pace of historic carbon reductions, an ambitious but achievable target if stakeholders collaborate across all sectors. By comparing results across six independent models, we provide greater confidence about the policies and technology development needed to achieve near-term climate goals laying the groundwork for an affordable, reliable, and equitable net-zero future,” he said.