Presidential candidates, state governments, and utilities are promoting “net zero” emissions targets to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and preserve a safe climate future by helping to limit global warming to well below 2°C. But few of them are exploring exactly how the U.S. could achieve the ambitious goal of remaking its energy economy.
Energy Innovation previously modeled a scenario to achieve the U.S. Paris Agreement pledge using the peer-reviewed, free, and open-source Energy Policy Simulator (EPS); it now uses the EPS to explore an illustrative policy package to achieve net zero U.S. emissions. By 2050, the net zero pathway abates more than 6 Gt of emissions a year and saves more than 120,000 American lives per year due to reduced particulate pollution.
This article focusing on the transportation sector is part three in a series of four identifying policy combinations that can achieve net zero U.S. GHG emissions by 2050. Other articles in the series cover the electricity, buildings, and industry sectors. (While emissions reductions from land use and agriculture represent roughly a tenth of those needed to reach net zero emissions, this series does not focus on that sector.)
The Paris Agreement targets net zero emissions by 2050. More than 60 countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom, have set net zero by 2050 goals, showing that political momentum can spur climate action – if the policy path forward is clear.
Net zero emissions: U.S. transportation
Decarbonizing the transportation sector is crucial to achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals: The U.S. transportation sector was responsible for over a quarter (27%) of 2018 U.S. GHG emissions (Figure 1).
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