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Florida, Part 1: A 50% GHG cut by 2025 will SAVE the state $28 billion

Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change has released its remarkable Final Report. It puts the Sunshine State on the same side of the climate issue as that other sunny coastal state ruled by a Republican (see The savings from cutting California’s carbon “outweigh the costs”).

The Action Team finds that an aggressive set of strategies could reduce Florida greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 50% from 2005 levels by 2025 (see figure, click to enlarge).

At the same time, the Team finds these reductions, achieved through some 50 policy recommendations covering every aspect of the economy, would bring large economic and energy savings to the state:

The total net cost savings of all Action Team recommendations combined is more than $28 billion from 2009 to 2025. Additionally, the recommendations would increase Florida’s energy security by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels resulting in a total fuel savings of 53.5 billion gallons of petroleum, 200.2 million short tons of coal, and 6.394 billion ft.³ of natural gas during the period of 2009 through 2025.

The Action Team directly addresses the economic slowdown issue that the inactivists have been pointing to as a reason for delay. The Team makes clear it is on the side of those who understand the time to act is now:

The Action Team completes its charge during a time of economic uncertainty. While it may be assumed by some readers that the current economic environment would hamper Florida’s progress toward a low-carbon economy, the Action Team firmly believes that the current economic conditions precisely sharpen the “call to action” first issued by Governor Crist in 2007. Now is the time for strategic investment in Florida’s low-carbon energy infrastructure if we are to be successful in diversifying the state’s economy, creating new job opportunities, and positioning Florida’s “green tech” sector as an economic engine for growth.

That is an astonishingly thoughtful and forward-looking conclusion from a state that has never been a leader on clean energy the way, say, California has. Kudos to the entire team (list of members here), which was lead by Chairman Michael Sole, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Vice-Chairman Rick Baker, Mayor, City of St. Petersburg.

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Part 2 will look at some of the specific measures the Action Team proposes to achieve its deep, cost-effective GHG cuts.

For other reactions, go to SolveClimate and Grist and the St. Petersburg Times.

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