After China, the United States offers the greatest opportunity for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In virtually every sector of the economy, the United States can replace old, polluting technologies with modern alternatives that are cleaner, more efficient, and cost effective. Implementing these alternative technologies can also create jobs in new low-carbon industries.
Until recently, the United States was the leading source of carbon emissions; it is currently responsible for 21 percent of the world’s annual emissions. According to the U.S. carbon-abatement cost curve (above right), nearly half of the potential emissions reductions in the United States can be achieved at a cost savings. Measures such as improving vehicle fuel efficiency, retrofitting buildings, and enhancing industrial efficiency reduce CO2 emissions—and save money too.
Other changes, such as expanding the use of renewable energy technologies and implementing carbon capture and storage, can be more costly. But these technologies are ripe for a new wave of investment and innovation that can reduce their cost and create competition for older, dirtier energy sources.
While many of the energy challenges in the United States must be solved through national policies, state-level policies offer vital opportunities to reduce global-warming pollution. Promoting cheaper alternatives to new coal-fired power plants, advancing vehicle fuel-economy standards, improving building codes, and creating incentives for renewable energy remain critical to propel new technologies that enable economic growth with dramatically less pollution.
The Energy Foundation, ClimateWorks’ Regional Climate Foundation for the United States, is a partnership of major donors that has been advancing energy efficiency, renewable power, and other low-carbon solutions for nearly two decades.
Working with a diverse set of partners, The Energy Foundation pursues campaign-style grantmaking that helps:
- Shift the U.S. economy away from yesterday’s fossil-fuel-based technology
- Create jobs
- Improve public health
- Make the world more secure
Support from The Energy Foundation allows its large network of grantees to analyze policies, educate decision makers, conduct media outreach, offer testimony to regulators, and mobilize grassroots supporters. The foundation’s work has helped deliver major victories in energy policy, including renewable portfolio standards that will stimulate a $65 billion market over the next 15 years, and federal fuel-economy standards that will eliminate more than 420 million tons of CO2 in 2030.
News & Reports
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency establishes the first national greenhouse gas emissions standards, significantly increasing the fuel economy of new passenger cars and light trucks.
A new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology finds that widespread use of energy-efficient products could reduce the need to build more coal-fired power plants in southern states.
Find out how the electrical grid in the eastern United States can accommodate 20 to 30 percent wind energy without jeopardizing reliability.