WASHINGTON DC (08/11/2023) – The Institute for Energy Research released a new report today examining the challenges and costs of net-zero policies.
Around the world, governments, activists, and researchers have begun to converge on the idea that reaching “net-zero” carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is a minimum requirement of adequate action on climate change. The targets for achieving net- zero are set several decades into the future with much fanfare, but the actual steps required to reach such targets, and the impacts of those steps, are rarely discussed. This report seeks to fill that information gap with what net-zero really means for the United States and its energy future.
Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, issued the following statement along with the new report:
“Striving for net-zero will demand significant and transformative shifts in our energy systems. The considerable strides the U.S. has already taken in reducing CO2 emissions, which stand as a global benchmark, represent a fraction of the necessary effort. The nation would need to rapidly and remarkably reshape its energy landscape, accompanied by substantial upswings in mineral extraction. This could inflict serious harm on the economy.
Moreover, even with these endeavors, achieving net-zero hinges upon questionable assumptions and forecasts about forthcoming technology and behavior, making it a highly improbable short-term objective. It is imperative that policymakers comprehend these hurdles and expenses from the outset, before embarking on any iteration of a net-zero ambition.”
The report shows that absent unforeseeable technological breakthroughs, a massive reordering of how society uses energy will be required in order to achieve net-zero, including significantly more mineral and material resources than the current conventional energy and vehicle technologies that we rely on today.
Even if the material challenges can be met, attempting to achieve net-zero will result in massive damage to the American economy. At just the halfway point on the way to net-zero, aggregate GDP drops $7.7 trillion, employment shortfall averages 1.2 million jobs, average annual household electric bill increases $840 (in 2017 dollars), and gasoline prices rise 236 percent.
Finally, achieving net-zero requires dubious assumptions and projections about future technology and behavior that likely make net-zero an impossible near-term target. Understanding these challenges and costs at the outset must inform policymakers before they pursue any version of a net-zero target.
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- The Plugged In Podcast #84: Europe’s Approach to Net-Zero
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