A long-read article in The Guardian, “The race to zero: can America reach net-zero emissions by 2050?” is recommended reading for anybody who wants to grasp the magnitude of the change required by the United States if it is to reduce its emissions in order to comply with the Paris Agreement.
This will be the most important technological change in history: ending the use of fossil fuels, whose harmful effects we have known for decades and that have turned out to be much more expensive than we thought. Renewable energies such as solar, wind and battery storage are much cheaper than we thought years ago, to the point of surpassing not only coal and natural gas, but also nuclear and hydroelectric power. This fact, masked for years due to the use of incorrect metrics, has inflated a large financial bubble around conventional energy, which needs to be ended as soon as possible. We need a change in the energy generation mix quickly, which is now feasible: eliminating the use of coal before 2030; a sharp reduction in the use of gas and nuclear power, coupled with a huge increase in wind — conventional and offshore, as well as through innovative models — and solar, which means fitting panels almost everywhere.
In transportation, the country’s most important source of emissions, there has been a strong increase in sales of electric vehicles in all segments, boosted by the construction of a huge network of charging stations. By 2050, 96% of vehicles will be electric, some 330 million, and there will be public charging infrastructure almost everywhere.
Equally striking will be the change at the residential level: all energy in homes, for heating, hot water or cooking, will be electric. Gas will disappear completely from kitchens, become residual in hot water systems, and be greatly reduced for household heating.
In addition, the country will build a vast network of 110,000 km of tunnels to trap carbon dioxide underground.
The article also analyzes the evolution of jobs required by the energy sector, as well as the reduction in deaths from pollution. In all, a hugely ambitious and optimistic project… but one that is fundamental if we are to have a bright, clean future. If you thought that moving to renewables was all talk, think again.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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