California unveils plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2045
Posted by Daniel Acker, Mar. 14, 2014
By Mark J. Terrill
The nation’s carbon footprint has dramatically increased over the last century. Nearly 600 million people work in the carbon-intensive fossil fuel industry, and many more spend time at work interacting with and consuming large amounts of carbon-based products and services. Nearly one-third of U.S. electricity now comes from fossil fuels, and more than two-thirds of that power is now generated using coal, oil, or gas.
As a result, the U.S. economy has become increasingly dependent on fossil fuels. The economy of China is dependent on coal and natural gas for electricity generation, and India’s central government recently agreed to begin phasing out coal-fired power production on a permanent basis.
In the United States, the growing reliance on fossil fuels has driven a growth in carbon dioxide emissions, which is the primary greenhouse gas driving global climate change. According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions per person are now about three times what they were in 1970. By 2040, carbon dioxide emissions per person in the U.S. are expected to more than double, reaching levels near their highest point in 1970.
Now, the Obama administration, under the direction of former Vice President Al Gore, is taking dramatic action to reduce carbon emissions. It filed a plan today with the Environmental Protection Agency, which seeks to reduce U.S. emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.
The plan calls for a 40 percent cut in carbon emissions from electricity generation and a 50 percent reduction in emissions from transportation, building, and industrial activities. The plan also includes new clean energy technologies, such as better efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, and electricity storage technologies. It also calls for the creation of the Green Innovation Fund, which will provide cash to companies trying to introduce low-carbon technologies.
The plan does not call for a cap and trade system, a tax on carbon emissions, or new subsidies