Half Of North America's Electricity Will Be Emissions-Free By 2025
Meaghan Lee Callaghan
at 11:51 AM Jul 1 2016
Half Of North America's Electricity Will Be Emissions-Free By 2025
North American Leaders Set Goals To Mitigate Climate Change
Lawrence Jackson / The White House
Energy // 

Renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage technology will be on the table to help North Americans meet their goal of 50 percent clean, emissions-free energy by 2025.

The new goal was just one of many targets outlined on Wednesday when the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada met in Ottawa to finalize an agreement setting goals to mitigate climate change.

The goal calls for emission-free energy, meaning electricity production that does not emit large amounts of carbon dioxide in the generation process.

The half-clean-electricity target is a decent increase from the continent's current 37 percent electricity generated emissions-free. The countries, specifically the United States and Mexico, will need to greatly increase their clean production, with 32 and 22 percent emissions-free electricity respectively. Canada already has 80 percent emissions-free electricity, stemming mostly from hydropower.

Some experts have said that this goal can be doable, unless we continue on with the status quo.

“We believe that this is an aggressive goal, but for all three countries one that we believe is achievable continentwide, and it's supported by domestic policies in all three countries,” White House Climate Advisor Brian Deese in a press conference.

Mexico will have to double its emissions-free output to meet the goal, or the other nations will have to pick up the slack.

The United States has a shorter distance to climb, but it will deal with its own issues, including the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in the U.S. The amount of energy generated from nuclear power is expected to drop by a percentage point in the near future.

In addition, the Clean Power Plan is still stalled by a Supreme Court stay, meaning a setback for government support for the renewable energy industry.

Also, carbon capture and storage —technologies attached to fossil fuel power plants to capture emissions before they are released into the atmosphere— are not widely developed in the United States, though the government and industry partners have tried to get them off the ground for years.

But government agencies are positive that the U.S. will meet this goal, saying that Americans will at least receive 41 percent clean electricity by 2025, an 11-point increase.

The new tri-country plan also calls for the reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors to be cut by 40 to 45 percent. While carbon emissions get most of the attention, as the plentiful gas is the major contributor to climate change, methane is a more potent warming agent. Though it is in smaller amounts in the atmosphere, its greater effect comes from being 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a century.

The plan, named the North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership Action Plan, also includes a number of other targets, including the increase of energy and vehicle efficiencies and implementation of the Paris Agreement and other international guidelines. It further calls for the expanding of early warning systems for natural disasters, as well as the support of migratory species and crack down on wildlife trafficking.

Meanwhile Australian politicians continue to insist that us doing anything would be pointless while the world's biggest polluters - including China and the US - keep using fossil fuels. Sigh.

comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for the Pop Sci newsletter
Australian Popular Science
ON SALE 03 AUGUST
PopSci Live