America’s reliance on wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy has reached historic levels and is poised to make even greater gains in the near future, according to new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
NRDC’s Third Annual Energy Report, “A Tectonic Shift in America’s Energy Landscape,” found that the energy sector in the United States emitted less dangerous carbon pollution last year than in 1996, with a full 10 percent reduction over the past decade. Meanwhile, coal and electricity consumption are down nationwide, while oil use today is lower than in the early 1970s, the report shows.
“The economic and environmental performance of America’s energy systems has never been better, and the single most important contributor to these positive trends is energy efficiency, the largest and least expensive way to meet the nation’s energy needs,” said Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the NRDC energy program. “However, America can, should, and must do more to increase our efforts to help stabilize the world’s climate.”
The report cites two important U.S. advances this year in the global fight against catastrophic climate change: the Obama administration’s August release of the Clean Power Plan to limit power plant pollution and California’s new climate legislation (SB 350 signed yesterday). California has set the world’s strongest combined targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and transportation electrification, a path that other states could follow. “These developments, along with the good energy news noted in the report, offer hope for significant progress in the global climate negotiations scheduled for December in Paris,” Cavanagh said.
Sierra Martinez, report co-author and NRDC’s California Energy Project legal director, said the report shows the United States was relying on an unprecedented amount of renewable energy by the end of 2014.
“The amount of renewable energy from wind turbines, solar panels, and other technologies now equals roughly 10 percent of the nation’s energy use,” Martinez said. “That’s like powering the world’s largest economy for more than a month without using any pollution-spewing coal, oil, or natural gas, and without additional harm to our lands, waters, and wildlife that is associated with extracting fossil fuels.”
The report also notes the country is already two-thirds of the way toward meeting President Obama’s goal of cutting 3 billion tons of carbon pollution by 2030 through his administration’s efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings.
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