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Deep Decarbonization? Yes We Can!
Created time:2021-01-15

Modeling the U.S. energy system demonstrates several pathways to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The pathway with the lowest cost, 0.2–1.2% of GDP, relies on >80% contribution of renewables.

SOURCE: AGU Advances


Staying within a 1.5°C global warming limit will require transformation of our economy to net-zero emissions by 2050, which seems like an enormously ambitious goal. And yet, with new in-depth modeling analysis, Williams et al. [2020] illuminate several technologically and economically feasible pathways to this required deep decarbonization. All pathways require enhanced energy efficiency, decarbonized electricity, electrification, and carbon capture. Interestingly, a modest role for natural gas in 2050 to ensure continuous reliability of electricity supplies is part of the least-cost pathway that still meets the emissions goals. Demonstrating the feasibility of these urgently needed transitions could not come at a more important time, as discussions on appropriate policy instruments to speed the journey to climate stabilization will be front and center as the U.S. rejoins the Paris Climate Accords.

Citation: Williams, J., Jones, R., Haley, B., Kwok, G., Hargreaves, J., Farbes, J. & Torn, M. [2020]. Carbon-Neutral Pathways for the United States. AGU Advances, 1, e2020AV000284.

—Eric A. Davidson, Editor, AGU Advances

Text © 2021. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0