Now that’s a 12-step program
A hopeful press release touting an even more hopeful (wishful?) report:
Takoma Park, MD — At the G-8 summit in Germany in June 2007, President Bush promised to “consider seriously” the European Union goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to limit global temperature rise to about 4 degrees Fahrenheit. A new study concludes that the United States could eliminate almost all of its carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2050. It also concludes that it is possible to do so without the use of nuclear power. The landmark study, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, was produced as a joint project of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
“A technological revolution has been brewing in the last few years, so it won’t cost an arm and a leg to eliminate both CO2 emissions and nuclear power,” said Dr. Arjun Makhijani, author of the study and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “We can solve the problems of oil imports, nuclear proliferation as it is linked to nuclear power, and carbon dioxide emissions simultaneously if we are bold enough.”
The “Roadmap” concludes that the United States can achieve a zero-CO2 economy without increasing the fraction of Gross Domestic Product devoted to lighting, heating, cooling, transportation, and all the other things for which we use energy. The fraction was about 8 percent in 2005. Net U.S. oil imports can be eliminated in about twenty-five years or less, the study estimated.
The 12 most critical policies that need to be enacted as urgently as possible for achieving a zero-CO2 economy without nuclear power are as follows.
- Enact a physical limit of CO2 emissions for all large users of fossil fuels (a “hard cap”) that steadily declines to zero prior to 2060, with the time schedule for tightening assessed periodically according to climate, technological, and economic developments. The cap should be set at the level of some year prior to 2007, so that early implementers of CO2 reductions benefit from the setting of the cap. Emission allowances would be sold by the U.S. government for use in the United States only. There would be no free allowances, no offsets and no international sale or purchase of CO2 allowances. The estimated revenues — approximately $30 to $50 billion per year — would be used for demonstration plants, research and development, and worker and community transition.
- Eliminate all subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels and nuclear power (including guarantees for nuclear waste disposal from new power plants, loan guarantees, and subsidized insurance).
- Eliminate subsidies for biofuels from food crops.
- Build demonstration plants for key supply technologies, including central station solar thermal with heat storage, large- and intermediate-scale solar photovoltaics, and CO2 capture in microalgae for liquid fuel production.
- Leverage federal, state and local purchasing power to create markets for critical advanced technologies, including plug-in hybrids.
- Ban new coal-fired power plants that do not have carbon storage.
- Enact at the federal level high efficiency standards for appliances.
- Enact stringent building efficiency standards at the state and local levels, with federal incentives to adopt them.
- Enact stringent efficiency standards for vehicles and make plug-in hybrids the standard U.S. government vehicle by 2015.
- Put in place federal contracting procedures to reward early adopters of CO2 reductions.
- Adopt vigorous research, development, and pilot plant construction programs for technologies that could accelerate the elimination of CO2, such as direct solar hydrogen production, hot rock geothermal power, and integrated gasification combined cycle plants using biomass with a capacity to sequester the CO2.
- Establish a standing committee on Energy and Climate under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.