Net-Zero America

With a massive, nationwide effort the United States could reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 using existing technology and at costs aligned with historical spending on energy, according to a study led by Princeton University researchers, funded by BP and ExxonMobil.

The new “Net-Zero America” research outlines five distinct technological pathways for the United States to decarbonize its entire economy. The research is the first study to quantify and map with this degree of specificity, the infrastructure that needs to be built and the investment required to run the country without emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than are removed from it each year. It’s also the first to pinpoint how jobs and health will be affected in each state at a highly granular level, sometimes down to the county.

The study’s five scenarios describe state-by-state level mobilization needed across the country, and highlight the implications for land use, incumbent energy industries, employment, and health. Initial results were released December 15, in recognition of the urgency to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the need for immediate federal, state, and local policy making efforts.

The “Net-Zero America”research is currently not a written report but rather is presented as a set of 300 slides, in conjunction with a Princeton-hosted website that helps readers explore this data.  Unfortunately, as with many such analyses, this report was funded almost entirely by fossil fuel money, from BP through the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton’s High Meadows Environmental Institute, ExxonMobil through Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.