2016 Report: Phasing Out All Federal Fossil Fuel Leases Would Reduce Carbon Emissions, But Not Nearly by Enough to Avoid Worst Climate Risks

Takeaway: while limiting U.S. fossil fuel production can reduce carbon emissions, achieving the vast majority of reductions needed to avoid the worst climate risks requires reducing fossil fuel consumption.
  • A 2016 report calculates that a U.S. Federal Government phase-out of all fossil fuel leases would reduce carbon emissions by an amount (100 million tons by 2030) roughly equal to recent Federal fuel efficiency regulations.

  • As the figure below shows, this phase-out would close the gap by 9%, in 2030, between where U.S. emissions are trending and where they must be to avoid the worst climate risks.

Study: It Is Feasible for the U.S. to Achieve Over 80% Carbon-Free Electricity by 2050

Takeaway: reliability concerns about the transition to renewable electricity are valid, but not insurmountable.

Potential U.S. Electricity Generation Mix in 2050 (%)

The U.S. can feasibly generate over 80% of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2050.
  • A 2012 analysis shows that the U.S. can achieve over 80% carbon-free electricity generation by 2050, while maintaining grid reliability in every U.S. region and at relatively low cost.

  • This would reduce power plant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than three-quarters from current levels (equivalent to reducing overall emissions by about one-quarter).

  • This would increase the average American's monthly power bill by about $20, but this excludes power bill savings from energy efficiency and healthcare cost savings from reduced pollution.