Scientists Map Plan For US to Halve Emissions by 2030

Scientists Map Plan For US to Halve Emissions by 2030

A study published last month in Science declared that it’s both technologically and financially possible for the US to transition to clean energy and cut emissions in half by 2030 -- but only if policymakers act urgently. The study also puts forth “the first detailed roadmap” for the US to achieve its Paris Agreement commitments. With multiple models and room for variation, researchers agree that the country must first target its two most high-emitting sectors: electricity and transportation. By 2030, 80% of US electricity must come from clean sources, and over 50% of new cars must be EVs.

Study author Nikit Abhanyanhar stated, “With the right policies and infrastructure, we can reduce our emissions while saving American consumers billions of dollars and generating new employment.”

Vox: How Americans Can Leave Fossil Fuels Behind in One Chart, September 10, 2020.

Why This Matters

The US, which produces 15% of the world's emissions, is not on track to achieve its climate goals and has fallen behind some peers on climate action, with a global ranking of 43 on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), made up of 180 nations. Still, the rest of the world is not doing much better, and unless the US and others urgently slash emissions, in the words of Climate Envoy John Kerry, “we are cooked.” With eight years left to prevent 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, leading scientists and international policymakers agree that the world’s most high-emitting countries must act urgently.

NBC: John Kerry says Climate Change Should Be Called Climate Crises, February 19, 2021.

Reuters: World could see 1.5C of warming in next five years, May 10, 2022.

It's Time To Prioritize Policy

The US is already moving towards its expansion of affordable clean energy and EV use. Models predict that it won’t be long until it’s more expensive to buy a gas-powered car or operate a fossil fuel-powered plant. Researchers emphasize that the major barrier to slashing emissions is no longer the cost -- it’s policy. The study cites that cutting 50% of emissions by 2030 will require policymakers (at all levels) to set strict targets and regulations for companies and to support investors in the financial transition.

CBS: California ahead of clean energy goals, March 11, 2022.

Bloomberg: Scaling Up Renewable Energy Usage, March 16, 2022.

Grist: This tiny model town shows how we could achieve 100% clean energy, January 7, 2021.

WW0: Heather Zichal and Amanda Little Facebook Live conversation, February 18, 2021.