In 2021, the United States set an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% by 2030. This policy called for reducing such emissions from several facets of the economy, to include the energy sector, transport sector, and industry sector. One year later, and with only eight years left to reach that goal, are we on track to succeed?
In a recent study published in Science, a team of scientists and policy analysts from across the nation suggests that there are multiple pathways to achieve this goal -- but big commitments will need to be made, immediately.
"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," said Nikit Abhyankar, one of the study's authors and 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.
Reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 would put the United States on a path to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target scientists say is required to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
The study 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:
"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 deployment needed to achieve near-term climate goals, laying the groundwork for an affordable, reliable, and equitable net-zero future."
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!