COP21: INDC’s or Deep Decarbonization Pathway?

Originally published at This Is Eisenhower | by John Brian Shannon

coal fired power generation
COP21: Can nations meet their short term CO2 emission targets & the longer term United Nations INDC & Deep Decarbonization Pathway (DDPP) to 2050 targets? File photo: Coal fired power generation. Image Credit Alfred Palmer

COP21: Examining the case for nations to meet reasonable CO2 emission targets by adopting a two-track plan to lower CO2 emission levels, while still adhering to the longer-term INDC model as suggested by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and COP21.

Example: U.S.A. bans coal-burning by 2020

  1. Conversion of all existing coal-fired power plants to natural gas (such conversions are now a mature industry)
  2. CO2 emissions from those converted power stations would drop by half
  3. Eliminating the non-CO2 pollutants and particulate emitted by coal burning — some of which are very toxic to humans, livestock, and agriculture, and damaging to exterior concrete and metal
  4. A total solution to the fly ash disposal problem
  5. Water usage falls from 1100 gallons per MW to 800 gallons per MW
  6. As natural gas becomes a baseload energy, gas prices would stabilize
  7. Healthcare costs would fall
  8. Agriculture costs would fall
  9. Infrastructure costs related to exterior concrete spalling and metal pitting would fall
  10. More coal available for export

Significant progress towards tapering U.S. emission levels would occur by 2020 from a single (and simple) regulatory change.

All of the natural gas-fired power generation extant in America after 2020 would need to continue producing electricity (especially to provide power at night) as more solar and wind power capacity is added to the U.S. grid. Utility companies that invest in natural gas power plants prior to and even after 2020, could therefore be assured their investments would remain as an important partner in the primary energy generation mix.

In addition to the foregoing, the U.S. government should still submit an INDC for 2030 and also submit a non-binding Deep Decarbonization Pathway (DDPP) to 2050 plan.

In that way, the United States could facilitate relatively rapid progress on short term CO2 emission reduction targets/non-CO2 related externalities — and continue to work towards meeting the (long term and non-binding) DDPP targets that are fine-tunable over the coming decades.

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