US Can Dramatically Cut Carbon Emissions and Lower Energy Bills at the Same Time, New Study Finds

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Lisa Nurnberger, 202-331-6959, Aaron Huertas, 202-331-5458

US Can Dramatically Cut Carbon Emissions and Lower Energy Bills at the Same Time, New Study Finds

WASHINGTON - The
United States can dramatically cut global warming emissions and reduce
consumer and business energy bills at the same time, according to the
findings of a soon-to-be-released, two-year study by the Union of
Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The
analysis, "Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy
Economy," found that implementing a suite of climate, energy and
transportation policies would allow the United States to meet an
emissions-reduction cap of 56 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and
save consumers and businesses $465 billion in that year. The average
U.S. household would enjoy a net savings of $900 on its energy bills,
including $580 on transportation (fuel, vehicle and driving) costs and
$320 on electricity, natural gas and heating oil, after investing in
home efficiency improvements. Businesses collectively would realize net
energy bill savings of $130 billion.

UCS's
policy recommendations would put the nation on a path to reduce
heat-trapping emissions by at least 80 percent below 2005 levels by
2050, the target that UCS experts contend is necessary to prevent the
worst effects of climate change.

"We
have a historic opportunity to reinvent our economy, tackle global
warming, and cut energy costs," said UCS President Kevin Knobloch.
"Setting a limit on heat-trapping emissions would ensure that we make
the necessary carbon emission reductions to help avoid the worst
consequences of climate change. Combining a carbon cap with strong
efficiency, renewable electricity, and transportation standards can
deliver those emission cuts and save Americans a substantial amount of
money."

------------------------------

Note:
UCS President Kevin Knobloch will testify tomorrow afternoon on the UCS
report findings before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. To
watch the hearing live, go to the committee's Web site. Knobloch's written testimony highlighting key findings of "Climate 2030" and information on energy cost savings by region is available online. The final report will be available in May.

------------------------------

Consumers
and businesses would not have to wait 20 years to see benefits from
UCS's recommended initiatives. The analysis found that by 2020 the
United States could meet a cap of 26 percent below 2005 levels and save
consumers and businesses $346 billion in that year.

Most
of the net energy bill savings over the next two decades would be due
to more energy efficient buildings and industrial processes; cleaner
cars; and a more efficient transportation system. A nationwide limit on
carbon emissions would slightly increase energy prices, UCS found, but
a comprehensive set of energy and transportation policies would dampen
energy demand, lowering energy costs to more than offset efficiency
investments and the higher cost of energy. 

The
UCS analysis, which used a modified version of the Department of
Energy's National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), concluded that the
United States could reduce energy demand by a third through improved
efficiency in buildings, industry and transportation systems. More than
half of the emissions reductions, meanwhile, would come from cuts in
the electric generation sector. By 2030, the analysis found, power
plant carbon emissions could be 84 percent lower than 2005 levels.

"Efficiency
and renewable energy technologies are ready today to power our economy
with carbon-free electricity," said Steve Clemmer, research director of
UCS's Clean Energy Program. "Our blueprint shows that these clean
energy sources can lead the way in cutting U.S. emissions, while
lowering electricity bills and curbing our addiction to dirty,
high-carbon coal power."

Over
the next 20 years, renewable electricity and efficiency would be more
cost-effective solutions to climate change than advanced nuclear power
and advanced coal plants with carbon capture and storage systems,
according to the report. However, advanced nuclear and coal
technologies could play a more significant role if their costs decline
more quickly than expected, or if the nation does not pursue the energy
efficiency and renewable energy policies recommended by the report.

Transportation
sector emissions also could be significantly reduced. By 2030, car and
light truck carbon emissions could be 40 percent lower than 2005
levels. The combination of cleaner cars and a more efficient
transportation system would cost about $35 billion in 2030, but would
save drivers some $120 billion at the pump -- in addition to savings
generated by the fuel economy standards Congress passed in December
2007. Putting technology to work in freight trucks, meanwhile, would
produce net savings of about $38 billion in 2030 and keep their carbon
emissions steady at 2005 levels.

"Vehicle
carbon standards, low-carbon fuels, and a smarter transportation system
would cut carbon emissions and the cost of owning a car or a truck,"
said David Friedman, research director at UCS's Clean Vehicles Program.
"The future of the environment -- and the future of the auto industry
-- are at stake, and we can help save both by investing in smart-growth
initiatives and cleaner cars and fuels."

------------------------------

Note:
UCS Clean Vehicles Program Research Director David Friedman will
testify on Friday before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. To watch the hearing live,
go to the committee's Web site. A copy of Friedman's written testimony will be available online Friday morning.

------------------------------

If
policymakers enacted UCS's recommendations, in 2030 the transportation,
residential and industrial sectors would use 6 million barrels a day
less than what they consumed in 2005 -- the equivalent of what  the United States currently imports daily from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The
report's recommended approach is similar to one in a draft discussion
climate bill recently proposed by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and
Edward Markey (D-Mass.). Their bill features many of the same policies
found in the report, including a cap-and-trade program, a renewable
electricity standard, energy efficiency standards, and low-carbon fuel
standards.

"To
reap the greatest savings, it is critical that Congress enacts a
comprehensive set of climate and energy policies, such as those
proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill, without delay," said Rachel
Cleetus, a climate economist at UCS. "We are encouraged that the
proposed bill includes a cap-and-trade program, but the other
initiatives in it are equally important. If you dropped the energy and
transportation policies from our recommendations, for example, the
cumulative savings for consumers and businesses over the next two
decades would fall from $1.6 trillion to $600 billion."

###

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

Share This Article

More in: