President Joe Biden said he would compel all companies powering American homes to cut all carbon pollution by 2035.
According to the administration, it will serve as the first step for the US to achieve its climate goals. Many environmental organizations called governments worldwide to diminish greenhouse gas emissions in light of the worsening climate conditions. However, as the Biden administration advocate for greener power resources, the country’s power industry seems reluctant to let go of fossil fuels.
Many companies now turn to natural gases to power homes. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the country will create natural gas plants capable of powering more than 12.8 million households. While natural gas makes fewer emissions than coal, massive plant operations could release tremendous amounts of methane into the atmosphere.
“If you’re going to kick that 20% of coal off the grid by 2030 or 2035, there is zero chance you can do that without increasing gas,” said Andy Devries, an analyst from CreditSights.
“After the coal’s off the grid, how much longer does it take to kick the gas off? That’s at least another ten years. And that’s aggressive,” he added.
Minor carbon cuts will not help
Scientists re-echoed the need to cut carbon emissions significantly. However, they added that small and incremental cuts would not help the environment recover. Instead, it will lead to more destructive storms, heat waves, and flooding in the future. Experts commended the movement to invest in solar power, with 45 gigawatts of solar and wind plants created next year. However, since more carbon emissions are expected next year, the environment will still be inevitably affected.
“The consensus is that we need to be at zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by about 2050 to avert the worst impacts of climate change,” said Ben King from the Rhodium Group.
“There is no reason to take any utility’s net-zero commitment seriously, especially if they are investing in anything that emits new CO2 or has any new emissions,” added Daniel Tait from the Energy and Policy Institute.
“The more we accelerate and keep putting greenhouse gasses into the climate now, the more we have a chance of reaching tipping points in the Earth’s system. If you start to get to these tipping points, our climate starts to change in ways that are possibly irreversible, possibly self-perpetuating,” explained Lisa Dillling, an environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.
A call to end carbon emissions
When leaders met during the United Nations climate conference in Egypt, environmental organizations emphasized the necessity to let go of carbon emissions. The goal is to prevent the global temperature from rising.
“We need to rapidly plan out the phase down and phase out of coal, oil and gas, especially in rich, large countries,” said Manish Bapna, the CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“I don’t think [people] quite understand how unprecedented, how monumentally challenging the task is to remake the energy system essentially,” added Ryan Sweezey from Wood Mackenzie.
“Developers are taking a second look at natural gas and saying, ‘Is this going to be a prudent, long-term investment, given both expected higher gas prices into the future as well as just how inexpensive it is to deploy technologies like wind and solar and batteries?” asked King, a member of the Rhodium Group.
Photo Credit: Tatiana Grozetskaya