The question for policymakers, and all other citizens, is no longer whether humans are changing our climate. The question now is, how we can stabilize an already-changing climate in a way that promotes economic prosperity? While recently established domestic policies have made strides toward a lower carbon future, such measures are stepping stones. They prescribe the initial path but will not lead to the final goal of achieving the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to help stabilize global temperatures. Effectively mitigating climate change requires identifying exactly how the United States will transform its energy economy to attain international goals to help protect our climate.
This report quantifies the level of investment required for the United States to align emissions reductions with international goals in an economically beneficial and technically feasible manner. The specific emissions-reduction goal we explore in this study is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has proposed for the world as a whole: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2035. To do its part to meet this goal, the United States must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from energy-based sources by 40 percent, to 3,200 million metric tons, or mmt, over roughly the next 20 years. The proposals in this report put the United States on this track to effectively mitigate global climate change.
The report covers three areas of analysis. It first describes the need for a substantial new wave of mostly private investment in advanced energy technology and higher performing buildings, as well as significant public and private investment needed to build dramatically more efficient infrastructure. Second, it outlines how the United States can and must reduce its use of fossil fuels by 40 percent within the next 20 years, as the window of opportunity to stabilize our changing climate is small and closing rapidly. Third, the report shows that stabilizing the climate requires bold actions that we term the PERI-CAP scenario. In addition to this analysis, the report outlines flexible policy options that can be utilized to take the needed actions. Notably, the report finds that this investment agenda will not only protect our climate but will also generate 2.7 million net new jobs.