Saturday, February 03, 2007

12 Big Steps to Curbing Climate Change

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.


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