How to Decarbonize the Grid and Our Homes
The 26th international Conference of the Parties (COP26) being held in Glasgow, Scotland, is being touted as we go to press as our last, best chance for the biggest polluters to make good. Our early winter newsletter features correspondence from local community members on site in Glasgow pushing hard for real global targets and real global outcomes. Here in California and Davis we are also working hard to make change. Communities worldwide face a convergence of crises and needs – and mounting climate impacts only add to the challenges faced by the most vulnerable among us.
Our national goals
At the national level, the Biden administration is leading the way with major steps forward for our country. Actions to meet a 2050 goal of carbon neutrality include:
- DECARBONIZE ELECTRICITY: Switching electric grid fuels from coal, heating oil and natural gas to solar, wind, tidal, and other renewables.
- ELECTRIFY END USES AND SWITCH TO OTHER CLEAN FUELS: Transportation electrification is the largest context for this transformation! This includes cars, bikes and other low power solutions and adapting bio fuels to use methane for power instead of flaring.
- CUT ENERGY WASTE: Improving energy efficiency for every activity in our buildings, cars, and appliances and choosing to not spend energy resources on things (conservation). What will we not do to save energy?
- REDUCE METHANE AND OTHER NON-CO2 EMISSIONS: Capping emissions from emeritus sources (old wells and pipe lines), eliminating use, and capturing methane and other non CO2 gases at the source, then sequestering or using as fuel for future activities.
Beyond these primary action areas, the Federal strategy sets up four strategic pillars to reduce emissions 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030 and set up the economy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It calls for action with leadership from the Federal level, innovation from the private sector, and action by tribal, state, county, city, and other governmental jurisdictions, as well as all of society (that’s us) to act!
The same problems, at the local level
The Federal goals target problems we here in California are tackling as well: in particular, how to decarbonize our electrical grid. California is systematically driving our energy providers (PG&E and Valley Clean Energy) toward more renewable sources for electricity with decarbonization goals by 2045. It is also incentivizing the electrification of transportation. In October, Governor Newsom signed a historic funding bill for climate action.
Valley Clean Energy is working to add to our local renewable sources and to increase storage for a more resilient electric grid.
The City of Davis is actively resetting its local Climate Action and Adaptation Goals to comply with its goal of carbon neutrality by 2040. While the Davis community has reduced its local footprint in many ways, we have a long way to go to complete our decarbonization.
Some of the most important actions to support the new CAAP include:
- Retrofitting our existing buildings (commercial and residential) to be all electric and requiring all new construction to be electric.
- Ensuring all buildings are operating at the highest efficiency
- Incentivizing and supporting all electric transportation, and
- Supporting active transportation and transit over single occupancy vehicle use
Read about the CAAP process and register for the upcoming community workshop.
We must each do our part
Each of our households has a building energy use profile, transportation footprint, and consumption of other resources related to food, water, and household goods. The Cool Davis Cool Solutions checklist summarizes the many actions a household can take to minimize their greenhouse gas footprint to live more sustainability.
Each of us has work to do to lessen our contributions to climate warming:
- reduce our energy consumption
- minimize our vehicle miles traveled
- conserve water
- reduce consumption of goods and services
Each of us, at this COP26-moment, should be looking closely at what we can do.
- What household actions can we take next? What extra things can / should we do now to reduce our footprint and also make up for our climate debt from decades of emissions?
- What can we share with local, state, and national leaders about our commitment and call on them to take further action?
- What can we do to assist others with fewer resources to ensure equitable access to a healthy environment, affordable low-carbon transportation, and economic security?
We will step up to embrace this time. We all have a call and a duty to act. We can share together our challenges and successes in moving forward. Working together as a community on common goals is what builds bonds of trust. All the better to face the future ahead!
Chris Granger is the Executive Director of Cool Davis. See our Leadership page for more about Chris and the people of Cool Davis.
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