RMI Shows the “How To” of Limiting U.S. Warming to 1.5°C


As the United States rejoins the global effort to tackle the climate crisis, we are poised to make historic investments in infrastructure to build a 21st-century, decarbonized economy.

RMI is unveiling a series of resources that provide analysis and guidance for how the United States can align its economy to limit warming to less than 1.5°C. The first two reports will help policymakers at all levels, utilities, corporations, non-profits, and other stakeholders balance near-term actions and longer-term planning, and guide sector-level planning.

RMI is also providing a new, data-rich online tool examining regulated electric utilities’ fossil and clean energy investments in relation to their stated decarbonization goals, as well as the underlying drivers and decisions that will determine emissions well into the future. With this data, policymakers and stakeholders can better understand and address the challenges and constraints shaping utility decisions and identify the conditions that most need to be addressed for the sector to quickly reduce emissions and support the electrification and decarbonization of other sectors.

The three resources that RMI is launching are detailed below.

1) Scaling US Climate Ambitions to Meet the Science and Arithmetic of 1.5°C Warming: This short report explores the implications of a central but often misunderstood fact: that limiting the extent of climate damage requires limiting cumulative emissions, as well as eventually achieving a net-zero end-state. This report shows that immediate investments are needed, to both reduce emissions today and invest in the supporting infrastructure such as transmission, vehicle charging, sustainable urban infrastructure, and efficiency that will allow the United States to continue decarbonizing through the 2030s. With ambition matching the scale of what is needed, the United States can indeed decarbonize its economy to limit warming to 1.5°C.

2) Sector-Level Strategies and Targets to Limit Warming to 1.5°C: As a companion to Scaling US Climate Ambitions, this brief provides sector-level targets for electricity, buildings, transportation and & mobility, and industry at the scale needed to meet the challenge of 1.5°C alignment. It also provides sector-level strategies.

Image via RMI’s Utility Transition Hub.

3) The Utility Transition Hub: This new web-based tool can help utility-sector stakeholders chart a path toward an equitable and affordable transition away from fossil fuels for regulated utilities. Significantly, this tool does not only track outcomes such as emissions, plant retirements, and additions, but also investments and other forces that will drive future emissions. The Utility Transition Hub (TM) combines publicly available utility data with a visual and analytical sophistication normally only found behind paywalls in service of making critical utility transition insights as widely accessible as possible in service of rapid decarbonization.

“If we follow the arithmetic of climate science, we find that the US needs to prioritize urgent investments that both jumpstart replacing fossil fuel equipment today and build the supporting infrastructure we will need to continue decarbonizing through the 2030s. For the foreseeable future, the most important year to act will remain this year.” —Chaz Teplin, PhD, principal with RMI’s Carbon-Free Electricity Team

“Finding pathways to equitably decarbonize the electricity sector requires all parties have access to critical data that can help them work together to navigate the transition in a way that ensures nobody is left behind.” —Uday Varadarajan, principal with RMI’s Carbon-Free Electricity Team

These products are the latest in a long tradition of RMI analysis of pathways to enable a rapid, efficient, and just transition to a clean energy economy. Additional RMI solutions-focused projects will be launching in quick succession in the coming weeks and months.

Article courtesy of RMI.

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