While a growing coalition of countries is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, approximately half of the emission cuts must be implemented by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C. This is a significant challenge, as it requires both political acceptance and a broad deployment of cars and clean energy sources. To meet this goal, the energy sector would have to account for the majority of total emission cuts. Solar, wind and other renewables would need to produce approximately half of the country's electricity by 2030, significantly faster than current federal estimates.
Additionally, transport is the country's largest source of emissions, and electric cars would need to account for between 50 and 100% of new car sales by 2030. To encourage consumers to buy them, strong tax incentives and cash programs for clunkers will be needed. All sectors of the economy would have to contribute, but some could take much longer for new policies to take effect. The federal government should also dramatically accelerate energy efficiency programs, including standards for appliances, and phase out the use of natural gas in heating and cooking.
Forests and farmland should also play a role, as they absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. With just nine years to implement these programs, speed will be key. To reduce carbon emissions, governments must introduce national targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 with goals of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 or earlier.