On Tuesday, the US National Academies of Science released a report entitled “Accelerating Decarbonization in the United States.” The report follows up on a 2021 analysis entitled, “Accelerating Decarbonization in the US Energy System.” When the earlier report was prepared, the US didn’t have a decarbonization policy, although the growth of natural gas and renewables was dropping the emissions involved in producing electricity. Within the following year, the US passed an infrastructure law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), all of which contained provisions intended to help cut the US’s emissions in half by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency has also formulated policies that should radically reduce the emissions of generating electricity.
In other words, shortly after the report’s release, the US formulated a plan to accelerate decarbonization and a target of a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030.
Rather than pat themselves on the back, however, the experts who prepared the original report recognized that the US’s climate goals require it to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, and that will require lots of policy changes beyond the ones already in place. The new report is largely a call for people to start thinking of what we need to implement to ensure emissions keep dropping after 2030.