“Climate Solutions” from Co-op America
With the election of a new Congress come new opportunities to plan a better way forward on the issues we all care about.
That’s why Co-op America is mailing our recent “Climate Solutions” issue of the Co-op America Quarterly to each new and returning member of the 110th Congress. In it, we explore the climate pollution generated by several economic sectors, and propose economic solutions based on the work of Princeton University’s
Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) — a plan designed at the speed and scale necessary to curb the climate crisis.
The CMI scientists propose reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by dividing this huge task into smaller, doable segments – or “wedges” – of equal size. They propose 15 wedges, of which we only need to achieve seven to make a difference to the climate.
Co-op America used our own green filters on the CMI analysis, screening out measures that are too dangerous, costly, and slow (like nuclear power plants and “clean” coal), while beefing up those that are safe and cost-effective (like energy efficiency and renewables).
The resulting plan offers 12 “wedges” (listed below)that each would reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year by 2054. What’s more, the plan issafe, clean, cost-effective, doable with today’s technologies, and ambitious enough to meet the climate challenge.
Steps like number 2 (drive less), number 3 (push energy use in buildings to zero), and numbers 5 and 6 (expand wind and solar power), depend on each of us taking action today. (Use the links in this Real Money article to find renewable power in your state, or this article to reduce the energy-use of your appliances.)
Other steps require real action now from our elected officials, car companies, power companies, and other decision-makers to create real change.
If you have a blog or a personal Web site, post Co-op America’s 12 Steps to Curbing Climate Change and help us spread the word. Send a copy of this e-mailto your state, local, and national representatives, and to your friends and family.
Send our complete 12-Steps editorial to your local newspaper for reprinting, or contact us for copies of our “Climate Solutions” Quarterly to share with friends, family, and elected officials.
Here’s to real climate solutions,
Each of these steps would reduce carbon emissions by at least 1 billion tons per year by 2054. Implementing at least seven of them brings us to the scale necessary to meet the climate challenge, but we have to start now, and move quickly. We have a ten-year window in which we need to be well on the way to achieving these steps.
The good news is that we have the technology and know-how to accomplish all of these steps right now. The best news is that we don’t just save the climate with these steps. They bring us real energy security, more jobs, a cleaner environment, real progress on the war against poverty, and a safer world. Let’s get started today.
1. Increase fuel economy for the world’s 2 billion cars from an average of 30 mpg to 60 mpg. (Current US averages are a woeful 22 mpg.)
2. Cut back on driving. Decrease car travel for 2 billion 30-mpg cars from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year, through increased use of mass transit, telecommuting, and walking and biking.
3. Increase energy efficiency by one-quarter in existing buildings and appliances. Move to zero-emissions plans for new buildings.
4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero, and double the rate of new tree plantings.
5. Stop soil erosion. Apply “conservation tillage” techniques to cropland at 10 times the current usage. Encourage local, organic agriculture.
6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-megawatt windmills, 75 times the current capacity.
7. Push hard for solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic units, 1,000 times current capacity.
8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent, and shut down plants that don’t meet the standard. No net new coal plants; for new plants built, an equal number should close.
9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase in natural gas usage over current levels — a short-term step until zero-emissions renewable technologies can replace natural gas.
10. Sequester carbon dioxide at existing coal plants. Sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide underground, an unproven technology that may, nonetheless, be better than nothing.
11. Develop zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.
12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel until better carbon-free technologies are developed — but only biofuels made from waste, and made without displacing farmland and rainforests.
If you have a blog or a personal Web site, post Co-op America’s 12 Steps to Curbing Climate Change and help us spread the word. E- mail us for graphics you can use to link to our site.