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Carbon emissions in 2030 under “business as usual” by Charles Komanoff

Electricity-sector CO2 emissions in 2030 under “business-as-usual”: These depend on two parameters — electricity sales (which determine) generation; and the CO2 “content” of an average kWh generated. I estimated future electricity sales using AEO (that’s the US Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook) forecasts of GDP growth and electricity rates, which I processed through assumed elasticities of 0.5 for income and (negative) 0.7 for price. For CO2 content, I assumed an annual decline in CO2/kWh of 1.0%, which is half of the average 2.0% “decarbonization” rate experienced in 2005-2013. As noted or implied above, U.S. electricity-sector emissions were 2414 million tonnes of CO2 in 2005 and 2053 million in 2013. A 30% cut in the former figure (the President’s goal) is 724 million tonnes, implying a 2030 target of 2414 less 724, or 1690 million tonnes. My modeling implies business-as-usual year-2030 emissions of 2045 million tonnes (coincidentally, almost identical to actual 2013 emissions). Reducing that to 1690 million tonnes requires a relative cut of 355 million tonnes, which is just 6.7% of actual year-2013 total U.S. emissions of 5313 million tonnes. For sources, more details and all calculations, see the Electricity “tab” of my carbon tax spreadsheet model.

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