The original headline of this opinion piece was “To Fight Climate Change, Replace Fossil Fuels At Home And Work”, which was probably considered a little too scary even for NY Times readers. And would lead to inconvenient questions like “has Senator Heinrich given up his own use of fossil fuels at home and work? How about the rest of his elected climate cult Comrades?”
Our future depends on our acting now to confront the climate crisis by enacting policies to convert our economy from fossil fuels to clean energy. By making this switch, we will also create millions of new jobs, save American households money on their energy bills and protect lives by improving the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces.
To get there, we need to begin by electrifying large parts of our economy and changing the supply of all that electricity from polluting fuels to clean energy. We must start with our homes and vehicles because, according to research from Rewiring America, a nonprofit organization focused on the widespread electrification of the U.S. economy, 42 percent of all of our energy-related carbon emissions come from the machines we have in our households and our cars. To keep global warming at livable temperatures, we need to replace existing machines that use fossil fuels with clean electric substitutes when they reach the end of life.
Deep decarbonization analyses, such as a recent report by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, conclude that working to electrify our vehicles, homes and businesses is a critical part of achieving economywide net-zero emissions by 2050.
The jobs thing again, which barely seem to materialize. And, perhaps you will save one energy bills. But that won’t be for a while, as the cost to replace the vehicles and appliances will be expensive to start with. Has Martin done this in his own life?
Rewiring America offers one blueprint for this transition that underscores its enormous scope — and the benefits that will result. The group has calculated that we must replace or install one billion machines. More than half of those would replace the ones we now have in our homes that burn fossil fuels — including our space-heating machines like furnaces, water heaters, cars, and clothes dryers. What if we build those electric appliances in America? That’s a lot of manufacturing.
That’s a lot of manufacturing, yes. Who’s going to do it? China? America doesn’t make most of this stuff anymore, sadly. It would cost thousands to replace my natural gas heating and gas fireplace: how long would it take to recoup that money in electric bill savings? Oh, wait, gas is actually cheaper than electricity.
The other close to half a billion machines are the infrastructure we must install to generate and distribute that electricity — breaker boxes, batteries, rooftop solar systems and vehicle chargers. To power those billion machines, we will need to greatly increase the amount of electricity we produce, and do so cleanly.
Where’s it coming from? Perhaps if we build lots of nuclear power plants, won’t happen with wind and solar.
We need to get started today. And that requires three things. First, we need to invest in upgrading the breaker boxes in American homes so that they can take higher-capacity electrified appliances. These new breaker boxes will help to manage the load on a decarbonized grid. Second, we need to bring down the upfront costs of electrified appliances through rebates, incentives and low-cost financing to encourage consumers to buy them. Fossil-driven machines may be cheaper initially, but operating electrical machines will be cheaper far into the future, and their price will come down with economies of scale.
More government handouts with what is actually the People’s money. And borrowing. Lots of borrowing. From China?
Last, we need to help organize very fragmented local markets, train workers, reduce regulations that make electrification and distributed generation more expensive, and encourage business models that make it easy and intuitive for homeowners to replace and install their share of these one billion machines.
So, government control over the “local markets”? And the economy? What has Martin done in his own life?
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