KEY POINTS

KEY POINTS OF REACHING NET ZERO

  • Global warming is man-made and a threat that has to be addressed without further delays.
  • Fossil fuels are an outdated solution that needs to be replaced by renewables as quickly as possible.

  • Major trends are in the right direction but not moving fast enough, such as the increased use of renewable energy and electric vehicles. These trends should be accelerated.

  • There is a risk that we could reach a tipping point that will accelerate global warming in a potentially irreversible way, beyond our control. This is not a prediction but a possibility that should not be ignored.

  • We can’t get to net zero fast enough to meet the IPCC goal of keeping global warming under 2°C. 

  • Due to latency, climate change will continue for some time even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to net zero.

  • Due to ongoing climate changes, mitigation has to be a big part of any plan to address global warming.

  • Relevant lessons learned are summarized from the successes and failures of past and present large programs, such as the development of commercial nuclear power in the U.S. and Germany’s  Energiewende program to phase out coal and nuclear power.

  • Austerity need not be part of the solution. A positive future is discussed with abundant and affordable energy from renewable sources. 

  • An achievable plan is presented to power the world with renewable energy. Specific bottlenecks are identified and solutions proposed. Most air pollution is eliminated in addition to greenhouse gases. 

  • The economics of making the transition to renewables are analyzed. Considering all the costs and benefits involved, funds should be available to make the transition.

  • The transition to renewable energy and changes needed to combat global warming should present business opportunities to those who embrace change. China (a rival but not necessarily an adversary) is presently ahead of the European Union and the United States and is capturing these business opportunities.

  • If we don’t do the big things, the small things may be commendable but aren’t sufficient to stop global warming. The big things are: (1) educate the voting public so that they will support needed changes, (2) institute a carbon emissions fee to offset fossil fuel subsidies, and (3) participate in international efforts to stop global warming.

  • A planned smooth transition to renewables is needed to avoid major recessions, malinvestments, stranded assets, and uninsured losses. A disruptive transition is likely to compromise public support. Major infrastructure projects and siting and land use guidelines should be included in any plan.

  • Failure is an option.