We have 15 years. That’s what the International Panel on Climate Change told us this month in its latest report. We can’t keep global temperatures from rising — it’s too late for that — but we can stop temperatures from rising to such an extent that unthinkable consequences occur.
The IPCC says that delaying mitigation of greenhouse-gas emissions until 2020 would make it very difficult to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.
So that’s it — 15 years in which we must work our hardest to maintain a livable world for our children, our grandchildren and the other living beings on our planet.
The IPCC says it’s possible to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees using existing technology and at an affordable cost. A cost, I would add, that is surely more affordable than the costs of the economic, social and ecological disruption that will be caused by uncontrolled climate change. Can we muster the will to do it?
There are powerful forces arrayed against action on climate change — mostly the extremely wealthy and powerful fossil fuel industry.
What can we do to counteract all that oil influence? Here’s some good news.
This June, the Environmental Protection Agency is releasing standards that will set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.
We don’t yet know what those standards are going to be, but they should be strong enough to reduce power plant pollution by at least 35 percent compared with 2005 levels, if the President’s Climate Action Plan is to succeed in reducing U.S. carbon pollution by 17 percent by 2020.
The other good news is that Nevada is well on its way to those levels of carbon reduction with the passage last year of Senate Bill 123, which mandated the closure of NV Energy’s Reid Gardner coal-burning power plant in Southern Nevada — one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution in the state — and withdrawal of NV Energy from its share in the Navajo coal-burning plant — another huge regional polluter.
We are far ahead of most states, and with our abundant solar and geothermal resources we can go even further. There is no need for coal in Nevada.
Remember this when the EPA’s carbon standards are released next month and we hear the inevitable screeching about how they’ll drive us and our economy to ruin.
We are in a far better position than most states in our ability to take much of the carbon pollution out of our electricity generation; we’re doing it already.
And with our abundant renewable resources, we’re in a great position to move quickly to a low-carbon economy, even exporting our clean energy to neighboring states.
There is no reason why Nevada could not be a leader in the new, low-carbon economy of the future. We owe it to our children.
Anne Macquarie blogs about clean energy and climate change in Nevada at nevadanscleanenergy.org.