Business Daily Media

Here's how to meet Biden's 2030 climate goals and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions – with today's technology

  • Written by John Reilly, Co-Director Emeritus of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Here's how to meet Biden's 2030 climate goals and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions – with today's technology

Unprecedented forest fires in the drought-stricken western United States[1]. Tropical storms and rising seas threatening the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Sizzling heat across large swaths of the country. As climate change unfolds before our eyes, what can the U.S. do to sharply and rapidly reduce its share[2] of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing it?

The Biden administration has committed[3] to reduce those emissions 50% by 2030 below 2005 levels. That’s a critical first step of a global energy transition that must achieve net-zero[4] emissions by midcentury to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) and thereby avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Twenty years ago, I would have regarded the U.S. 2030 pledge as crazy talk. But a new study in the journal Science[5] that I co-authored, which compares results from six independent analyses conducted by academic, industry and nongovernmental organization researchers, lays out a road map to the 50% target that’s both doable and affordable.

So, what’s changed since the early 2000s?

Two EVs being charged in a driveway
Ramping up renewable energy production is crucial for the shift to electric vehicles to pay off. Sean Gallup/Getty Images[6]

Back then it seemed that without major policy measures, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would continue to rise indefinitely. However, inexpensive natural gas and falling costs of solar and wind power, combined with some modest state and federal renewable energy programs, resulted in a more than 20% reduction[7] in annual emissions between 2005 and 2020.

With that reduction under our belts, reaching the 2030 target will require a further reduction of about 37% from current levels. That puts the target closer, but it’s still a bigger drop in 10 years than the U.S. achieved over the past 15 years.

Our study shows that by exploiting declining costs of zero- and low-carbon energy sources in a more aggressive and focused way, the U.S. can meet its target within eight years[8] – all while substantially reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, including high-priced gasoline[9], and cutting back the air pollution, climate and health impacts resulting from their combustion.

A new road map for the US energy transition

While there are differences among the six analyses in our study[10], all find that most of the needed emissions reductions – about 70% to 90% – can come from the electric power and transportation sectors. These can be achieved through a further transition to solar and wind power as costs for those technologies continue to drop.

Solar and wind can’t do it all; we found that natural gas – some of it accompanied by technology that captures the carbon emissions released during its combustion – and nuclear power and hydropower can play supporting roles.

Much of the needed emissions reductions – about 10% to 25% – can be achieved through a rapid transition to electric light-duty vehicles along with additional reductions from freight transportation. Our study shows that electric vehicles, which accounted for about 4% of new car sales[11] in the U.S. in 2021, would need to rise to between 34% and 100% of sales by 2030 to meet that target. That’s a huge jump. But it now appears that battery costs[12] have fallen enough to allow production of EVs at a cost equivalent to that of conventional vehicles. Moreover, EVs are typically cheaper to operate and maintain, further reducing total ownership costs.

While our study finds that most of the needed emission reductions[13] can come from electric power and transportation, other sectors of the economy – including industry, agriculture and buildings – must also shift to low- and zero-carbon energy sources to meet the 2030 goal. The key challenges for these sectors include developing technology to eliminate emissions from energy-intensive processes, such as chemical, iron and steel production, and retrofitting existing homes and businesses with electric heat pumps[14] in a timely manner.

That’s a lot to accomplish in just eight years. It will require an unprecedented buildout of electric power production and transmission capacity, a rapid ramp-up of electric vehicle production and sales, and a nationwide deployment of EV recharging stations.

Climate and health benefits

At the same time, by helping to avoid the worst effects of climate change, implementing this road map would reduce the national cost of damage from climate change while encouraging innovation. And significantly reducing air pollution resulting from fossil fuel combustion would also reduce related health costs.

For example, the smog produced by fossil fuel combustion exacerbates asthma and related respiratory diseases, leading to premature deaths. Some of the six analyses[15] we reviewed found that the reduction in premature deaths – which equate to lost productivity and additional health costs – from reduced fine particulates in the air was by itself enough to offset the cost of implementing the U.S. energy transition road map described in the study.

Policy options

Given the scale and pace of the transformations needed to reach the U.S. 2030 climate target, action must be taken immediately and sustained throughout the decade to succeed. Many states have already made strong commitments and implemented policies to achieve them, but a coordinated national strategy is needed.

The six analyses we reviewed assume different combinations of strategies, including tax incentives, subsidies, regulations and carbon pricing. Each approach has its pluses and minuses[16], but any successful policy must focus on affordable and equitable solutions and recognize that one size does not fit all. For example, transportation solutions in rural areas will likely differ from those appropriate in dense urban areas, and new construction may sometimes be more cost-effective than retrofitting older buildings.

The Biden administration’s proposed way forward, the Build Back Better plan[17] targeting funding to help communities build resilience to the impacts of climate change and expand clean energy, is stalled in Congress. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

References

  1. ^ drought-stricken western United States (theconversation.com)
  2. ^ its share (worldpopulationreview.com)
  3. ^ has committed (www.whitehouse.gov)
  4. ^ must achieve net-zero (www.wri.org)
  5. ^ study in the journal Science (doi.org)
  6. ^ Sean Gallup/Getty Images (www.gettyimages.com)
  7. ^ more than 20% reduction (www.epa.gov)
  8. ^ can meet its target within eight years (doi.org)
  9. ^ high-priced gasoline (gasprices.aaa.com)
  10. ^ six analyses in our study (doi.org)
  11. ^ about 4% of new car sales (www.caranddriver.com)
  12. ^ battery costs (www.qad.com)
  13. ^ most of the needed emission reductions (doi.org)
  14. ^ electric heat pumps (theconversation.com)
  15. ^ six analyses (doi.org)
  16. ^ pluses and minuses (www.brookings.edu)
  17. ^ Build Back Better plan (www.cnbc.com)

Read more https://theconversation.com/heres-how-to-meet-bidens-2030-climate-goals-and-dramatically-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-with-todays-technology-185263

Business Reports

Advantages of Vacation Rental Management Software

The first vacation rental management software systems were launched in the early 1980s. At the time, they were majorly used by hotel owners to manage their properties online. The main functions included hotel reservations and ...

TIP Group grows; appoints new senior executives

Teaminvest Private Group Limited (ASX:TIP) has appointed two new senior executives to further accelerate the company’s growth. Timothy Wong has been appointed Head of TIP Equity (the company’s private equity division) and...

What to Look for in a Point of Sale System

When you're looking for a point of sale system for your business, there are a lot of things to consider. What type of business do you have? How many employees do you have? What features are important to you? In this blog post...

Why Roe v. Wade's demise – unlike gay rights or Ukraine – isn't getting corporate America to speak up

Many Americans reacted with outrage to the Supreme Court's decision to dismantle the constitutional right to abortion.AP Photo/Rick BowmerCorporate America – once known for carefully avoiding public stances on hot button iss...

Donating to help women get abortions is a First Amendment right – protected by Supreme Court precedents

An abortion provider in San Antonio had to turn patients away after the June 24, 2022, Supreme Court ruling. Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesSeveral Texas abortion funds – which are charities that help people...

Feeling down and unmotivated at work? Insights show that it’s the space you’re in

It may come as a surprise, but over your lifetime you will spend an average of 90,000 hours on the job, according to data in the study, Happiness at Work1. This will likely equate to a whopping one-third of your life, between ...



NewsServices.com

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion