The Green New Deal, the Democrats’ proposal to address climate change as well as economic inequality, may get a boost from a new Stanford University study that offers a roadmap on how to achieve the energy portion of the plan.
The U.S. will have to add 2,000 gigawatts of solar capacity, 2,300 gigawatts of wind capacity and 3,300 gigawatts of battery capacity to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, according to a study led by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. The U.S. guidelines correspond with the energy portion of the Green New Deal, which calls for the elimination of all fossil-fuel use in the country and requires the investment of $7.8 trillion.
The Green New Deal hasn’t gained traction since being introduced in February 2019 by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats. While Democrats generally support the proposal, Republicans and President Donald Trump have opposed it, with some specifically pointing to the economic portions as a “thinly veiled attempt” to “create a socialist society.”
“Many of the policymakers and advocates supporting and promoting the Green New Deal don’t have a good idea of the details of what the actual system looks like or what the impact of a transition is,” Jacobson said in a statement.
“It’s more an abstract concept,” he said. “So, we’re trying to quantify it and to pin down what one possible system might look like. This work can help fill that void and give countries guidance.”
The study details how 143 countries can achieve a 100% transition of all-purpose energy to wind-water-solar energy, efficiency, and storage by 2050. The plans call for countries to hit an 80% threshold by 2030.
“There are a lot of countries that have committed to doing something to counteract the growing impacts of global warming, but they still don’t know exactly what to do,” said Jacobson, who is also a co-founder of the Solutions Project, a non-profit working for a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy.
U.S. consumers would save 64% on their energy expenditures in 2050 if the plan were adopted, thanks to lower costs and greater efficiency, the authors said. There would be further savings from fewer deaths and illnesses, as well as climate benefits.
The transition to clean energy has begun, but the report shows that the pace must be picked up to limit the damage caused by climate change. In order to avoid 1.5°C global warming, at least 80% of fossil fuels and biofuel emissions must stop by 2030 and stop 100% no later than 2050.
- The U.S. added 722 megawatts of new electrical generation capacity in October, all of it renewable, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. During the January-October period natural gas additions fell by about 50%, FERC said.
- JetBlue said this week that it would offset all carbon emissions from domestic flights starting in July, seeking to become the first major U.S. “carbon-neutral” airline. Air France and British Airways started the decade by offsetting emissions from domestic flights.