December 12, 2014 | Kate Rosow Chrisman

Few things are as institutionalized in the US economy as the way we use energy. Decisions made decades, even centuries ago, impact our daily lives – the way we fuel our cars, how we warm our homes and cool our offices are largely legacies from prior generations.

As the world meets in Lima, Peru to hack out the beginnings of a new climate agreement, a new report released last month tackles the question, is it technically feasible for the US to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (based on 1990 levels), enough to help avert more than a 2 degree rise in global temperatures that scientists say will be catastrophic. (The US study was done in conjunction with 14 other countries. Results discussed here are for the US only, but the greater target of avoiding 2 degree temperature change relies on more than just the US cutting emissions). In other words, the study lays out a pathway for deep decarbonization of the US economy.

The report is important for two main reasons. First, instead of choosing a policy and analyzing it moving forward, the study uses a scientifically agreed upon goal and works backwards to discover what choices will impact any progress. Second, by analyzing targets and the technical feasibility, it leaves room for readers to interpret what policies will get us there.


Read the full report at Breaking Energy