An increasing number of companies and governments around the world are pledging to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in the face of mounting risks from global climate change. Given its technological, financial, and natural resource endowments, the United States is well-placed to lead by example. The Net-Zero America transition scenarios aim to inform U.S. policy and investment decisions around achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Comprehensive national-level modeling is used to define a diversity of technological pathways that would achieve net-zero emissions. Subsequent analysis is quantifying the scale and cost of physical assets, institutional change, and human-resource efforts for all sectors over time. A high level of spatial definition helps to illustrate the extraordinary scale, geographic impact, and pace of changes needed to achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. Significant challenges and potential bottlenecks are implied, and provide a focus for future research to understand how best to address transition inhibitors.
Jesse Jenkins is an assistant professor at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. He is an energy systems engineer with a focus on the rapidly evolving electricity sector, including the transition to zero-carbon resources, the proliferation of distributed energy resources, and the role of electricity in economy-wide decarbonization. Jesse’s research focuses on improving and applying optimization-based energy systems models to evaluate low-carbon energy technologies, policy options, and robust decisions under deep uncertainty.
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