The practical challenges increasingly made clear as the U.S. moves to address climate change; researchers address options for what they think may be possible.
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SCIENTISTS WARN that humanity must eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or risk devastating consequences. The International Energy Agency (IEA), a reputable international outfit of energy wonks, released last week a wide-ranging report arguing that such a transition is possible. It would just be very hard.
The agency rejects fantasies that everyone will suddenly eschew air conditioning and walk to work, figuring that behavioral change will drive only 4 percent of emissions cuts. Moreover, some 785 million people lack access to electricity. For them, the priority is getting this essential service, not how that happens. The goal must be to advance living standards everywhere while cutting the environmental impact.
The crucial turning points of the climate era can be found in a series of sentences, some of them pretty opaque, but all of them critical. The latest came on Tuesday morning in a report from the International Energy Agency, in Paris, and it could very well signal the start of the end of the fossil-fuel era. So it’s important to first set it in the context of a few other such statements.