by Martin Luecke and Barrett Sundberg
Stop the presses! This just in: An actual way forward in solving our climate crisis has arrived, and not a moment too soon.
“Mobilizing for a zero carbon America: A Jobs and Employment Study” was published in July by MacArthur genius grant recipient engineer/physicist Saul Griffith, who asked two questions:
1. What is necessary for America to do its part in limiting global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius?
2. What is physically possible, given the known capacity of the US economy?
Griffith reached his conclusions by studying the biggest compilation of US energy data ever made, and then developed a physical plan to accomplish the goal, using known technologies, and calculated the costs. His conclusions:
1. America already has everything it needs to decarbonize 80% by 2035, and 100% by 2050.
2. It won’t happen that fast by market means alone. We do need some government intervention.
3. It won’t happen that fast by government alone. We need some market participation.
4. It can be done so that ordinary people make no sacrifices whatever!
5. The primary trigger would be a massive 3-5 year construction boom focused on kickstarting the electrification of the economy.
6. The government would only need to pay for a small fraction of this, the rest could be paid for by private means that save more money for the individual than they cost
7. No new technologies needed
8. The overall system would cost less than our current one
9. No one would need habit changes – everyone could have as many cars as now, houses as big as now, all electric
10. There would be a temporary increase of 25 million jobs and a permanent increase of 5 million jobs which can’t be outsourced.
It’s not clear that Griffith counted fossil fuel jobs that would be lost, but every other aspect seems logical. The step by step is laid out in reports on the new website “Rewiring America”, and is called the Rewiring America Plan. They’re still working on the details of the financing side, but the underlying data and the physical implementation sequence are huge steps toward proving this is really feasible. (https://www.rewiringamerica.org/jobs-report)
The report also says that with the right regulatory environment “we can still predict significantly lower energy costs for consumers, with an average household saving of 1,000–2,000 dollars per year.”
In the analysis summary Griffith suggests the maximum feasible transition involves two primary stages: (i) an aggressive WWII–style production ramp–up of 3–5 years, followed by (ii) an intensive deployment of decarbonized infrastructure and technology up to 2035. This includes supply–side generation technologies as well as demand–side technologies such as electric vehicles and building heat electrification.
The report closes by briefly pointing out that this is not the Green New Deal, even though GND had similar goals. Green New Deal was criticized for not really having a road map, a practical plan. Sunrise Movement director Varkini Prasash says: This IS the plan! Windsor Park is already on board.