Back in May, a major study, California’s Energy Future — the View to 2050, was released by an independent state science and technology advisory panel. It had two central findings:
- California can achieve emissions roughly 60% below 1990 levels with technology we largely know about today if such technology is rapidly deployed at rates that are aggressive but feasible.
- We could further reduce 2050 greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels with significant innovation and advancements in multiple technologies that eliminate emissions from fuels. All of these solutions would require intensive and sustained investment in new technologies plus innovation to bridge from the laboratory to reliable operating systems in relatively short timeframes.
This report is an incredibly strong endorsement of the “deploy, deploy, deploy, research & develop, deploy, deploy, deploy,” strategy that I and others have been advocating. In fact, the report explicitly states that failing to adopt “Aggressive efficiency measures for buildings, industry and transportation” and “Aggressive electrification to avoid fossil fuel use” would “significantly increase the 2050 emissions.”
Amazingly, Revkin asserts the exact opposite in “A Reality Check on Ambitious Climate Targets.” Certainly misreporting on energy and climate in the NY Times is legion, as we’ve seen. But Andy Revkin’s latest head-exploding post easily wins the “Charlie Sheen” award.
A leading journalist and climate expert, Robert Collier, debunked Revkin’s “real spinning of the report” — see “Sticking the long knives into energy efficiency” (reposted below). It’s worth spending some time on this because the report’s actual conclusions and implications are very important to understand.
I have long asserted that it is not possible to make a positive contribution to the climate debate if you don’t spell out what your emissions or temperature target (or range) is. Revkin’s post proves that conclusively, as I will show.
Revkin’s glass-is-one-tenth-empty caption: “An analysis finds that California will not meet its climate target for 2050 even with a wartime-scale push on energy efficiency and installing non-polluting technologies like these solar panels in a housing subdivision in Rocklin.”
Revkin claims in his post:
Given that California is a best-case scenario* compared to other states (and, of course, countries) far more dependent on coal, Long’s piece and the underlying report pose a strong challenge to those calling for a “deploy, deploy, deploy” approach to cutting climate risks.
This is a link to – and swipe at — me, needless to say.
Blunder number one is for Revkin to assert the report challenges the aggressive deployment strategy for meeting ambitious climate targets. Quite the reverse. The report makes clear that without aggressive deployment, the target can’t possibly be reached.
Revkin added the asterisk (*) because, buried way, way at the bottom of his post is this Postcript,
In a Twitter reaction, Alan Nogee, the former clean-energy program director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, noted that California’s lack of coal dependence makes it more a worst case than a best case, because it doesn’t have a lot of coal emissions that might be relatively easily displaced.
Duh. Rather than an asterisk, Revkin should simply remove his misleading error.
The fact is that California has been pushing efficiency and low-carbon electricity aggressively since the 1970s. It is considerably more efficient in its use of energy than almost every other state. For a long time now the CO2 intensity of its electricity (CO2/Mwh) has been nearly half that of the rest of the nation. So obviously the rest of the country — which is far more coal-intensive and inefficient — has considerably more low-hanging fruit for emissions reductions.
That’s blunder two.
Blunder three is really the most amazing and amusing.