Opinion | We Can Limit Global Warming If We Don’t Waste Time

The United States committed in 2021 to cut emissions by at least half by 2030, but emissions rose nearly 7 percent in 2021. Although the budget bill is currently stalled in the Senate, more than $500 billion investments in clean energy in the bill could, according to a recent analysis, put emissions back on track to meet the 2030 goal. At a time when global oil and natural gas prices are rising, these tax credits and Other policies in the proposed bill could also reduce annual energy expenses by 6.6 percent for homes and businesses by 2030.

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The climate and the world are changing. What challenges will the future bring and how should we respond to them?

We also need to be more concerned with land use, permitting, and infrastructure issues. Net-zero will likely require substantial land use for renewables and expansions in pipeline and transmission infrastructure, but there is reluctance to accept such projects. For example, voters in Maine recently blocked a project to bring more hydroelectric power from Quebec to the northeastern United States, and environmental groups and residents in otherwise climate-conscious states like California and New York , have resisted solar and wind farms. Overcoming such challenges requires careful engagement and consensus building among the groups affected by such projects. Time spent on such a commitment now can be time saved later.

Carefully mitigating the risks and balancing the trade-offs associated with different types of deeply decarbonized systems is another top priority. For example, to ensure short-term reliability and affordability of the power grid, regions may want to maintain nuclear and natural gas capacity to meet growing demand for electric vehicles and phase out coal, even as natural gas is gradually replaced. for zero. -Emitting fuels such as hydrogen.

It is also important to consider how well-designed climate strategies can support national and regional economic goals, including jobs, equity, and overall economic activity. For example, while the costs of rooftop solar energy are declining, there have been wide disparities in its adoption in the United States by race, ethnicity, and income. The air pollution consequences of many current energy systems can be uneven, but a transition to sustainable, low-carbon energy systems can mitigate such disparities. Decarbonization strategies must aim to equalize opportunities to adopt new technologies and promote just transitions.

Of course, the United States cannot do this alone. Although action by this country is imperative if we are to meet global climate goals, the United States accounts for a shrinking share of global emissions, and US leadership can help facilitate international collaboration and cooperation on technology transfer. , finance, trade and energy security for all.

The decisions we make now can have a huge impact on the long-term future of humanity. Climate change threatens to endanger communities, public health and the environment. The next steps are clearer and more accessible than ever.

Instead of being distracted by distant and probably irreducible uncertainties, let us focus on what matters: deploying the clean technologies we know we need, implementing a coherent climate policy, laying the groundwork for future progress, and creating a just transition that shares the benefits of clean energy. sustainable. system.

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