A How-To Guide to Slashing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

This analysis is quite general in its application to the developed world. It makes the key point: the way to save our civilization from the ravages of climate disaster is straightforward from a science and engineering standpoint. The key difficulty is with rich and reactionary fossil fuels industries buying the national politicians and distorting democracy, plus a financial sector that focuses only on short term gain, and also buying politicians.

A How-To Guide to Slashing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050
Berkeley Lab scientists help analyze the technological steps needed to create a low-carbon future for the Golden State

November 24, 2011

Dan Krotz 510-486-4019 [email protected]


News Release

What will a day in the life of a Californian be like in 40 years? If the state cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 — a target mandated by a state executive order — a person could wake up in a net-zero energy home, commute to work in a battery-powered car, work in an office with smart windows and solar panels, then return home and plug in her car to a carbon-free grid.

Such is a future envisaged in a study published Nov. 24 by the journal Science that analyzes the infrastructure and technology changes needed to reach California’s aggressive emissions reduction goal. The study was conducted by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the San Francisco-based energy consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics (E3).

Emission reduction wedges for California in 2050. Measures grouped into seven “wedges” reduce emissions from 875 Mt CO2e in the 2050 baseline case to 85 Mt CO2e in the mitigation case.

How to get from here to there: Seven measures reduce California’s emissions from 875 million metric tons of CO2 in the 2050 baseline case to 85 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in the mitigation case.

The researchers describe a not-so distant time in which lights, appliances, and other devices are pushed to unprecedented levels of energy efficiency. Electricity is generated without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And most importantly — even after these measures are implemented — cars, heating systems, and most other equipment that now run on oil and natural gas will instead be powered by electricity.

The scientists say that all of this will be technologically feasible by 2050 if today’s pace of innovation continues.

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