- It is possible for the United States to meet its climate commitments in the Paris Agreement and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but the effort will rely heavily on rapid decarbonization in the electric power sector, according to a report released Monday by a broad coalition of clean energy advocates led by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
- According to the analysis from America is All In, cutting U.S. economy-wide emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels will mean the "power sector contributes more than half the total reductions" with its emissions slashed 83%.
- Getting there will require "an all-of-society approach," according to the report, including investment and regulation from the federal government alongside efforts from local, state and business leaders.
In 2017, Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris agreement, but since taking office, President Joe Biden has rejoined the compact and proposed a jobs and infrastructure plan that hinges on eliminating economy-wide carbon emissions by 2050.
But federal policy efforts alone will not be sufficient to meet new greenhouse gas reduction targets, which will require the broader efforts of civil society and local leadership, according to the America is All In coalition.
The group launched in February to advocate for the United States' Paris goals and is co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Vi Lyles, and CommonSpirit Health CEO Lloyd Dean. The report released Monday was developed by World Resources Institute, RMI and the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) at the University of Maryland.
"It is important to remember that non-federal leadership has been and will continue to be critical to moving the ball forward nationally," Leon Clarke, acting director of CGS, said at an event introducing the report. "It's hard for us to imagine the Biden administration being able to put the level of ambition forward that they did without all the groundwork that's been laid by states, cities, businesses and civil society, over the last decades."
However, with the Biden administration now committed to climate policy, the group's "Blueprint 2030" outlines policies — including the federal government setting clean energy targets, efficiency standards and accelerating the shift away from internal combustion engines — that can help meet Paris targets.
Those include mandates and incentives to reach 80% or more clean electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2035, which align with targets stated by the Biden administration.
Democrats are working on a budget reconciliation bill that includes a Clean Electricity Performance Program to incentivize 80% of the nation's electricity from clean energy sources by 2030. In addition, the tax provisions in the bill would represent a major boost for renewable energy.
"Increased deployment and integration of renewable power and energy storage will result in 83 percent reductions by 2030" in the electric sector, the report found.
Reaching 80% clean electricity by 2030 "could prevent more than 300,000 premature deaths through 2050, saving over a trillion dollars," according to the coalition. "Reducing air pollution can also help address persistent health disparities, because people of color are historically disproportionally exposed to the pollutants that worsen health outcomes."
The report calls for a phase-out of internal combustion engines by 2035, and a doubling of federal investment in public transit, including $80 billion for passenger and freight rail. The transportation sector will need to reduce emissions 39% relative to 2005 levels, to meet Paris goals, the analysis finds.
Similarly, the report anticipates a 26% reduction in emissions from buildings by 2030, through mandates and incentives for all electric appliances and investments in building electrification and efficiency upgrades, "with a priority for low and middle income housing."
Each segment of society "has a unique role in driving climate ambition," said Kevin Kennedy, senior fellow at World Resources Institute and lead author of the report. The report "reflects the need for bold action and systemic change. ... these actions can create economic and political support for greater ambition from the federal government."