Forget building new nuclear power plants or trying to outfit every American coal plant with expensive technology that can capture carbon emissions.
Through relatively painless steps, the United States could cut its emissions of carbon dioxide the leading greenhouse gas fueling global warming by somewhere between 28% and 50% by 2030, and save money in the process.
"The United States could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 3.0 to 4.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies," a new analysis concludes. "These reductions would involve pursuing a wide array of abatement options with marginal costs less than $50 per ton, with the average net cost to the economy being far lower if the nation can capture sizable gains from energy efficiency. Achieving these reductions at the lowest cost to the economy, however, will require strong, coordinated, economy-wide action that begins in the near future."
That's according to a report by McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm, detailed in USA Today, the New York Times, Newsday and other newspapers today. Significantly, those who paid for the study weren't just environmental groups, but also big for-profit utilities and companies.
The report echoed some of the plans proposed by Democratic presidential candidates, including the rejiggering of energy markets so that there is a financial incentive for power companies to improve the efficiency of their clients, encouraging new energy-efficient building standards and putting a price on carbon pollution. But it also undercut the notion that carbon sequestration and other dramatic changes to industry or power generation would pay big dividends. Overall, the report said, the collective actions by individuals to reduce their energy consumption had the greatest potential, and at the lowest cost.
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