The oft-discussed 2030 Challenge asks that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations be carbon-neutral by 2030, and this recent report presents an aggressive strategy with similar goals that center not only on energy efficiency and renewables, but also saving money and creating jobs.
Specifically, under this plan, by 2050 the United States would see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that’s 86% below 1990 levels in the sectors it analyzed; the cost of electricity, heating, and transportation would be $78 billion less than current projections from now through 2050; and more than 500,000 jobs would be created per year over business as usual projections through 2050. What’s more, the plan relies on no new technological breakthroughs, but rather says we simply need to keep with current trends related to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
So how exactly would that work? The plan seeks to transform the electrical system by cutting coal-fired power in half by 2030 and fully eliminating it by 2050. The report also calls for the building of no new nuclear plants and a reduction of the use of natural gas far below its typical levels. It covers the entire electrical system, light vehicle transportation, space and water heating, and waste management— assuming conversion of all gasoline-powered light vehicles and most space heating and water heating to 100% renewable electricity— achieving three-fourths of the 80% goal. Freight and transit, industrial process emissions, and non-energy greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture also come into play to meet that goal, and in fact, could even allow our country to exceed it by 2050. The plan also calls for expanding the most successful existing state energy efficiency programs to the entire nation, and takes into account the rapidly declining cost of solar power, too.
And as far as all of those new jobs are concerned, they would largely lie in manufacturing and construction. The plan does point out that jobs will be lost in fossil fuel-related industries, so it calls for “a vigorous program to provide new, high-quality jobs and/or dignified retirement for those affected.” The plan points out that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created by expanding energy efficiency programs and that a second wave of employment would arise in the 2020s as renewable energy programs increase. From there, the 2030s could see auto industry employment on the rise as the production of electric vehicles increases, and in the 2040s, net energy savings would result in a healthier economy, and therefore, even more jobs.
The Clean Energy Future Report is presented by The Labor Network for Sustainability—a project of Voices for a Sustainable Future, which is dedicated to bringing together non-traditional constituencies to achieve a sustainable future for the planet and 350.org, which encourages citizens to take action in reducing our carbon footprint. Research was conducted by Synapse Energy Economics, which provides research and analysis on energy, economic, and environmental topics.
DOWNLOAD: Clean Energy Future Report