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Why We're Already Beginning To Solve Global Warming

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Washington, D.C. -- The world just got a wonderful winter solistice present: the Energy Information Agency (EIA), the official U.S. government scorekeeper on where our energy sector is headed, has dramatically lowered its "business as usual" projections for how much CO2 the US will emit in 2030. As the Sierra Club has been saying for some time, America is already beginning to move to a lower carbon future.

EIA now estimates that, by comparison with its projections a year ago, we will reduce our 2030 emissions by 9.4%. EIA attributes most of this decline to the fact that they now believe that there will be 100 fewer coal-fired power plants in 2030 than they projected just a year ago -- more than half of the new coal plants they expected a year ago have been stopped already! The Sierra Club's Move Beyond Coal campaign, which has been leading the fight against these facilities, had scored only 85 plants as blocked, but we expect to block far more in 2009. So EIA's estimates here are, perhaps, a bit generous, but only by a few months.

"[This] reflects the behavior of investors and regulators who, in their investment evaluation process, are implicitly (or explicitly) adding a cost to many proposed power plants that employ GHG-intensive technologies. Additions of new coal-fired power plants are significantly reduced from earlier projections."

The remaining reductions in the 2030 projections come from lower emissions from cars (the higher fuel economy standards Congress has passed) and buildings (the energy efficiency provisions of the 2007 energy bill). Again, EIA did not score the savings that will result once the Obama Administration and the Courts allow California and 18 other states to proceed with emission limits on CO2 from vehicles, nor did EIA take into account the recently passed 18-20% improvement in building codes. So here they are. Significantly conservative.

What this shows is that even with George Bush in the White House, providing no leadership, citizen action and pressure at the state, local, and Congressional levels were able to begin moving America away from the catastrophic high carbon pathway it has been on. Just imagine what we ought to set as our goals now that we have a partner in Washington!

Happy holidays, everyone!