Over the years, Frontier Group has examined how a variety of new clean energy policies could reduce global warming pollution. We’ve projected the potential reduction in 2016 and 2020 in global warming pollution from federal adoption of the Clean Cars Program, improving the efficiency of cars and trucks. We’ve estimated how building more wind turbines could reduce global warming pollution in Maryland, and how North Carolina could cut global warming pollution by investing in solar energy. We’ve examined the collective impact in 2020 and 2030 of clean energy policies if the nation were to adopt a comprehensive approach to reducing global warming pollution.
Slowly but surely, states and the federal government have adopted some of these clean energy policies, and they are beginning to change how the U.S. produces and uses energy. Though the nation still lacks a broad plan for addressing global warming, many of the necessary policies are in place and are beginning to produce results. Thus, it is possible to evaluate the actual impact these policies have had, not just what they could do in the future.
Our new report, Moving America Forward, finds that energy efficiency requirements, renewable electricity standards, the Clean Cars Program and other clean energy policies adopted or implemented from 2007 to 2012 reduced carbon dioxide pollution by 162 million metric tons in 2012. That’s equal to annual emissions from 34 million vehicles. Policies promoting energy efficiency, such as energy efficiency resource standards adopted by states and appliance and lighting efficiency standards adopted by the federal government, contributed the most, followed closely by policies supporting renewable electricity, including state renewable electricity standards and the federal production and investment tax credits. The federal Clean Cars Program also provides meaningful savings.
In the years to come, these programs will continue to reshape America’s production and use of energy and provide bigger emission reductions. But as shown by our earlier work on the scale of the challenge and the scope of the policies required to address global warming, the U.S. will need to do far more—strengthening existing policies and adopting new ones—to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
Associate Director and Senior Policy Analyst, Frontier Group
Elizabeth Ridlington is associate director and senior policy analyst with Frontier Group. She focuses primarily on global warming, toxics, health care and clean vehicles, and has written dozens of reports on these and other subjects. Elizabeth graduated with honors from Harvard with a degree in government. She joined Frontier Group in 2002. She lives in Northern California with her husband and son.