The U.S. can dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions while reducing energy spending at the same time, reports a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy” found that implementing new climate, energy and transportation policies would allow the United States to meet an emissions-reduction cap of 56 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The plan would save consumers $335 billion and businesses $130 billion in that year relative to a business-as-usual approach.
“We have a historic opportunity to reinvent our economy, tackle global warming, and cut energy costs,” said UCS President Kevin Knobloch. “Setting a limit on heat-trapping emissions would ensure that we make the necessary carbon emission reductions to help avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Combining a carbon cap with strong efficiency, renewable electricity, and transportation standards can deliver those emission cuts and save Americans a substantial amount of money.”
The analysis suggests that the U.S. could meet a cap of 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
“Most of the net energy bill savings over the next two decades would be due to more energy efficient buildings and industrial processes; cleaner cars; and a more efficient transportation system,” UCS said in a statement posted on its web site. “A nationwide limit on carbon emissions would slightly increase energy prices… but a comprehensive set of energy and transportation policies would dampen energy demand, lowering energy costs to more than offset efficiency investments and the higher cost of energy.”
“Efficiency and renewable energy technologies are ready today to power our economy with carbon-free electricity,” said Steve Clemmer, research director of UCS’s Clean Energy Program. “Our blueprint shows that these clean energy sources can lead the way in cutting U.S. emissions, while lowering electricity bills and curbing our addiction to dirty, high-carbon coal power.”
The report urges Congress to pass strong climate legislation to put the U.S. on a trajectory towards lower energy costs and a greener economy.
“To reap the greatest savings, it is critical that Congress enacts a comprehensive set of climate and energy policies, such as those proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill, without delay,” said Rachel Cleetus, a climate economist at UCS. “We are encouraged that the proposed bill includes a cap-and-trade program, but the other initiatives in it are equally important. If you dropped the energy and transportation policies from our recommendations, for example, the cumulative savings for consumers and businesses over the next two decades would fall from $1.6 trillion to $600 billion.”