Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

U.S. Could Reach Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 With More Benefits Than Costs

U.S. Could Reach Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 With More Benefits Than Costs
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences details how to address carbon pollution and societal inequities in beneficial ways. Cindy Shebley / Getty Images

The United States could achieve net-zero carbon pollution by 2050, address societal inequities, and reap benefits far greater than the costs, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Academies of Sciences.

The report recommends five main reforms, to be funded in part by a rising $40/ton carbon tax: improving building efficiency; electrifying transportation and building heating; getting 75% of electricity from clean sources by 2030; increasing transmission capacity; and tripling government investment in clean energy research.

At about $300 billion over status quo spending levels over the next ten years, the report found the reforms would more than pay for themselves in public health benefits alone.

With the correct policies in place, the reforms would have dramatic benefits for working class communities and communities of color disproportionately harmed for fossil fuel extraction and consumption, as well as communities historically dependent on fossil fuels.

"You should want to do this even if you didn't care about climate," Stephen Pacala, a Princeton University professor who chaired the 17-member committee that produced the report, told E&E.

Correction: Yesterday's newsletter misstated the cost of clean energy investments outlined by the National Academies of Sciences. The article originally said it would be an annual cost of about $300 billion over status quo spending levels. In fact, the reforms would cost about $300 billion over status quo spending levels over the next ten years.

For a deeper dive:

Politico Pro, E&E, Forbes

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, holds up his lab's sample of the whitest paint on record. Purdue University / Jared Pike

Scientists at the University of Purdue have developed the whitest and coolest paint on record.

Read More Show Less

Less than three years after California governor Jerry Brown said the state would launch "our own damn satellite" to track pollution in the face of the Trump administration's climate denial, California, NASA, and a constellation of private companies, nonprofits, and foundations are teaming up to do just that.

Read More Show Less