Sustainability Climate Change

US has eight years to cut its emissions by half. Scientists say there’s a way

“The case for clean energy is stronger than ever before and our study shows that the 2030 emission target can be achieved," one of the study’s authors said.
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Story at a glance


  • The U.S. can achieve its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 if it implements several strategies.

  • These include operating the electric grid with 80 percent clean energy and ensuring most cars sold by the end of the decade are electric.

  • The authors noted the main barrier to achieving the goals laid out in the study will not be based on costs but developing a coordinated effort among policy makers and other stakeholders.

The U.S. can achieve its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 if it implements several goals, including operating the electric grid with 80 percent clean energy and ensuring most cars sold by the end of the decade are electric, according to a new study.  

“By 2030, wind, solar, coupled with energy storage can provide the bulk of the 80 percent clean electricity. The findings also show that generating the remaining 20% of grid power won’t require the creation of new fossil fuel generators,” said Nikit Abhyankar, one of the study’s authors and a scientist at the Electricity Markets & Policy Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

President Biden announced his emissions reduction goal last year, months after rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels. 

The authors noted the main barrier to achieving the goals laid out in the study will not be based on costs but developing a coordinated effort among policy makers.  

“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,” Abhyankar said in a release.    

The study’s findings, which were based on an analysis of six recent economic models that simulate U.S. energy operations, might also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by further electrification of industries and buildings.  


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Findings also suggest that powering the U.S. electric grid with renewable energy, while there may be a net benefit of 1,000 per households with electric cars. Meanwhile, they note the transition could prevent up to 200,000 premature deaths and save up to $800 billion in environmental and health costs.  

“Since announcing the nation’s emissions reduction pledge at the 2021 United Nations climate conference, the United States has taken steps in the right direction,” Abhyankar continued. “But a lot still needs to happen. What we are hoping is that this study will give some level of a blueprint of how it could be done.”

 


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