Christopher Hayes refers to Bill McKibben’s 2012 essay in Rolling Stone titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” discussing McKibben’s conclusion that the fossil fuel industry needs to leave 80 percent of the carbon in the ground.
While certainly on point given the proposed Keystone XL project and the US fracking boom, Bill McKibben’s 2013 Rolling Stone “The Fossil Fuel Resistance” states that the magnitude of global warming means that “you need to do more than change your light bulbs.”
California, often heralded as the national if not international leader in decarbonizing California’s energy system and greening the grid, has very aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets requiring an 80 percent reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. Energy efficiency (EE) often tops the lists of strategies by which state policy makers hope to achieve these goals. California’s recent decade of EE is a combination of largely short-lived light bulbs, longer-lived appliances and equipment, and state building codes and standards. With conservatively one-quarter of savings from higher efficiency light bulbs that burn out in about five years, cumulative savings decay over time. California has generally continued to discount the same light bulbs, while counting burn-out replacements as new savings, thus contributing to an overstatement of EE accomplishments. Because California’s GHG emission reduction targets are “forever,” EE savings must translate into consumption reductions that last decade(s) into the future. The state needs to redouble its EE efforts to meet its 2020 GHG intermediate electric sector EE targets, with even more aggressive EE savings after that to meet the ultimate state GHG 2050 targets.
May 12 2014 - 1:23pm