A leading environmental advocacy organization has released a report outlining measures the country could take to increase renewable energy generation and cut greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050.
The Natural Resources Defense Council – better known as the NRDC – has issued “America’s Clean Energy Frontier: The Pathway to a Safer Climate Future.” It analyzes the impacts of climate change and outlines methods to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
NRDC Energy and Transportation Program co-director Roland Hwang says the objective was to figure out the cleanest, most cost-effective way to cut carbon pollution by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, which he says is the necessary U.S. contribution if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. “The report shows we don’t need to wait for big breakthroughs in technology. Instead what’s needed is a bold commitment to go fast and go big to deploy today’s proven clean energy solutions. Of the options our analysis shows that there are three big solutions that can provide 90 percent of the needed reductions. The big three are one: improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, factories and vehicles. Two: renewable energy especially wind and solar. And three the electrification of vehicles, buildings and factories using electricity from clean sources.”
The report finds that he cost to implement the plan would be 1 percent more that current U.S. energy costs. NRDC Energy and Transportation Program co-director Kit Kennedy says the strategy they are outlining provides cost benefits that are 7 times greater than the status quo. “By 2050 our pathway is actually less costly than other alternatives including business as usual. And that’s because the investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and so forth today, do have a cost, but they also have a tremendous cost benefit because we’ll be using much, much less fuel, much, much less energy as our energy system becomes more efficient and we rely more on solar and wind and other technologies that are free.”
Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment adjunct professor Peter Bradford is a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner and chaired the NYS Public Service Commission from 1987 to 1995. He blunted arguments from the fossil fuel sector. “This report is especially timely in refuting claims from Washington and from various special interests that a low carbon future will undermine U.S. competitiveness and cost us jobs. NRDC’s Pathway report stands out because of its substantial reliance on technologies proven to be feasible and cost effective especially energy efficiency. Furthermore the taxes that these emerging industries pay and the jobs that they and lower energy costs create will offset losses from facilities that are displaced.”