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National Clean Energy Standard Would Lower Power Sector CO2 Emissions 44% By 2035

By Stephen Lacey

"National Clean Energy Standard Would Lower Power Sector CO2 Emissions 44% By 2035"


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There’s no way around it: we need a price on carbon in order to rapidly reduce emissions. But absent that necessary policy, putting the investment structure in place to promote renewables can also have a substantial impact on lowering emissions.

A new analysis from the Energy Information Administration of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) proposed by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman finds that strong clean energy targets would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector by 44 percent over the next two decades.

The Bingaman CES would require utilities to procure 85 percent of their electricity from a mix of renewables, nuclear and natural gas by 2035. According to the EIA analysis, the targets would help decrease coal generation by 54 percent by the 2035 target date — all without a price on carbon.

There’s no substitute for putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. But establishing a national target for clean energy can also be an effective tool in our arsenal for reducing global warming pollution.

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4 Responses to National Clean Energy Standard Would Lower Power Sector CO2 Emissions 44% By 2035

  1. Tim Palmer says:

    The concept of a fee and dividend system is needs to be widely understood and then adopted. This consists of an escalating fee placed on all carbon fuels at the source based on carbon content. For example, it could start at $100/ton of carbon produced at the coal mine, oil or gas well-head, tar sands mine, etc. None of the money would go to the government. Instead the money would be placed in an independent acount and then returned to the citizens at regular intervals based on the relative size of their carbon footprint. Therefore, big carbon fuel users would bear more of the rising cost of fuel. Those who used minimal amounts could receive significant dividends. Dividend payment could be put directly into their bank accounts or placed on a debit card. The resulting rise in the price of fuel would produce significant incentive for developing a wide variety of creative solutions all along the chain of exchanges of money and goods related to the use of CO2 producing fuels. It is a simple system that is intended only to incentivize reduction in the use of fossil fuels. It is a good way to avoid giving politicians an opportunity to spend more of someone else’s money or to give Wall Street traders an opportunity to gouge everyone else through the trading shenanagans inherrent with the ‘cap and trade’ approach.

    • Returning the fees based on the “relative size of their carbon footprint” would give the wrong incentive. Better to rebate per capita. But the basic idea is fine.

      • Dick Smith says:

        The current legislation is per capita. HR 3242, the Save Our Climate Act. Starts at $10 per ton on co2 emissions (equates to $37 per ton carbon) and increases until we’re 80% below 1991 levels. Fee is on first sale–minehead, well head, point of import. According to the Carbon Tax Center, at the first level of approximation, the middle-income quintile (40-60%) break even with the dividend. The lowest 40% come out ahead. The upper 40% will pay the $55 billion a year (at $10 per ton co2).

        But, the important thing is the price on carbon. Whether you rebate all or most of it (as HR 3242 proposes) or whether government keeps it all as part of a “grand bargain” to solve the deficit does not really matter to me.

        For a good summary of the legislation go to Citizens Climate Lobby and hit the new one-stop button just below the Hansen quote. THEN, write your member of Congress to support the bill.

  2. Raul M. says:

    Is the expected increase in unprotected uv exposure by 2035 mean that the person who farms outdoors could expect a working career of one to two years before going macular degeneration?