Here’s how the U.S. can dump fossil fuels for good

Americans have often been told that meeting scientific climate targets is impossible without threatening jobs and costing a fortune. But a new report shows that the opposite is true.

“The Clean Energy Future: Protecting the Climate, Creating Jobs and Saving Money,” by the respected economist Frank Ackerman and his colleagues at Synapse Energy Economics, shows that the U.S. could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions and move toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 — while adding half a million jobs and saving Americans billions of dollars on electrical, heating, and transportation bills.

Why is this possible? The Clean Energy Future does not depend on any new technical breakthroughs to realize these gains, only a continuation of current trends in energy efficiency and renewable energy costs — but the cost of renewables is falling so fast that they are already cheaper than fossil fuel energy in some places and soon will be in most. And reducing our energy use through energy efficiency is already far cheaper than burning more fossil fuels. The Clean Energy Future shows in detail how we can use these new energy realities to meet our climate goals.

A climate protection strategy can be designed to provide the maximum number of good, secure, permanent jobs with education, training, and advancement. Because some jobs will be lost in fossil fuel–related industries, we need a vigorous program to provide new, high-quality jobs and/or dignified retirement for workers in those industries. Climate protection programs should include job pathways and strong affirmative action provisions for those groups that have been excluded from good jobs in the past.

The Clean Energy Future plan provides a floor, not a ceiling, for what can be accomplished.

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