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The best time to reduce emissions is now

2030 is the new 2050.

Julian Spector
Julian Spector
2 min read
The best time to reduce emissions is now

2030 is the new 2050.

2050 was the decarbonization deadline sufficiently distant that utility companies felt comfortable committing to it voluntarily. Several states have set similarly distant targets for cleaning up their grids.

But, as Jeff St. John reports for Canary Media, a growing body of research supports an accelerated timeline for the clean grid revolution. That's because electricity needs to deal with its carbon problem so it can replace fossil fuels for transportation, heating and industrial uses. All of that needs to happen to secure a shot at keeping planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Even dwelling on 2030 risks gazing too far into the future because carbon emissions accumulate in the atmosphere and intensify warming effects with each passing year.

“The most important year for reducing emissions will always be ‘this year,’” said Charles Teplin, principal in RMI’s Carbon-Free Electricity Practice.

Click through to Jeff's article to learn how the power sector's actions diverge from its stated targets and how viable it would be to try to hit 80 percent carbon-free by 2030.

Should we call this the wine bottle curve? (Graphic by RMI)

And for all you data nerds among our esteemed readers (we know you're out there), bookmark this new Utility Transition Hub that climate nonprofit RMI put together. (Recall that RMI sponsors Canary Media, but we choose what we want to write about here.)

As Jeff notes, the tool links disparate datasets to connect utility emissions, carbon goals and investment decisions, so you can play around with how the business choices being made today affect the ability to hit targets decades down the road.

Is your regulated utility using your money to build a livable world or not? Now you can visualize it for yourself.

Thank you to our launch sponsors for their support.

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Julian Spector

Julian reports on the rise of clean energy. He worked at Greentech Media for nearly five years, and before that he reported for CityLab at The Atlantic.