Researchers are proposing an inexpensive new plan to reach net zero, or even net negative emissions, by 2050


A collaboration of researchers from various institutions recently published the first peer-reviewed study that outlines a detailed plan for transforming the entire US energy and industrial system to reach net carbon dioxide emissions or even net negative emissions by 2050.

The above target was set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels and thus avoid the most severe consequences of climate change.

While the scheme offers a number of different paths to the same goal, they all share a number of key strategies, such as ‘increasing energy efficiency, switching to electrical technologies, using clean electricity (especially wind and solar energy), and deploying a small amount of capture technology.’ Carbon “.

Researchers present the most detailed plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 to the present day. picture: Jenny Noss / Berkeley Lab

The study confirms that according to the scheme, the existing infrastructure, including consumers’ personal belongings (such as cars) will be left in use, with low-carbon alternatives entering to replace it afterwards.

Implementing a national plan based on the new scheme will cost between 0.2% and 1.2% of GDP, depending on the extent of land allocation to wind and solar farms, and other trade-offs.

Moreover, achieving a carbon-free economy requires the deployment of sustainable energy production plants on a large scale, as well as building “new transmission lines, a fleet of electric cars and light trucks, millions of heat pumps to replace traditional furnaces and water heaters, and more energy efficient buildings.” Energy, ‘while driving more innovation.

According to the authors, thanks to recent technological improvements, the cost of transformation is now lower than it was five years ago. In addition, if the economic and climate benefits were taken into account – for example, reduced incidence of severe waves and hurricanes, cleaner air and water, and improved public health – the cost would still be lower.

Most of the associated expenses will be capital costs for new construction, but the authors indicate that it could be a great opportunity to create jobs at home, rather than sending in capital after foreign oil, which would help a large number of people already struggling with work. Because of the economic crisis.

Another important finding of the study is that regardless of the long-term differences between pathways, the short-term goals are largely the same, namely to increase renewable energy generation and transmission, ensure that all new infrastructure if low-carbon, and temporarily preserve natural gas capacity To ensure reliability.

The study has been published in the journal Predecessor AGU.


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