A new study found that adopting a clean energy standard in US President Biden’s energy plan is the most effective tool to significantly reduce carbon emissions and reach 80% renewable energy by 2030. A forcible increase of renewable energy through incentives and penalties potentially saves 317,000 lives in the US from air pollution.
What is Happening?
- In addition to rejoining the Paris Agreement, President Biden pledged that the US would reduce emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030, as well as to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035. The new energy plan also covers large grounds to reduce carbon emissions including transportation infrastructures, nature-based solutions, and carbon capture and storage.
- The new report conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Syracuse University, suggests that establishing a clean energy standard – pushing utilities to hit a certain amount of clean energy such as solar and wind through incentives and penalties – would be the most effective method in meeting Biden’s ambitious goals in reaching 80% renewable energy by 2030.
- The researchers found a clean energy standard could potentially save an estimated 317,000 lives in the US over the next three decades simply by the reduction of air pollution and emissions. States like Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois would reap the most benefits as they’re home to substantial fossil fuel infrastructures and generate USD$1.13 trillion in health benefits.
- The clean energy standard could save a lot of money too. Switching to clean energy would cost the US approximately USD $342 billion through to 2050, but the analysis found the financial returns could reach to a substantial USD $637 billion.
- Setting up a standard is far more effective than most carbon slashing proposals out there including carbon taxing.
“The costs are much lower than we expected and the deaths avoided are much higher; there really is a huge opportunity here to address climate change and air quality,” said Kathy Fallon Lambert, one of the study’s co-author and an air quality expert at Harvard.
- However, a measure for a clean energy standard failed to make it into the infrastructure bill.
- The Biden administration is currently working the measure into a new reconciliation bill and will require unanimous votes from Democrats. Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate adviser, stated that the measure is a “non-negotiable” in the next infrastructure package.
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