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Reflections—What Would It Take to Reduce U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050?


  • Geoffrey Heal


This article investigates the cost and feasibility of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. The United States has stated in its Paris Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 submission that this is its aspiration. I suggest that this goal can be reached at a net cost in the range of $37 to $135 billion/year. I assume that the goal is to be reached by extensive use of solar photovoltaic and wind energy (66 percent of generating capacity), in which case the cost of energy storage will play a key role in the overall cost. I draw the tentative conclusion that a more limited use of renewables (less than 50 percent) together with increased use of nuclear power might be less costly.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Heal, 2017. "Reflections—What Would It Take to Reduce U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050?," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(2), pages 319-335.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:11:y:2017:i:2:p:319-335.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Geoffrey Heal, 2016. "Notes on the Economics of Energy Storage," NBER Working Papers 22752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Denholm, Paul & Hand, Maureen, 2011. "Grid flexibility and storage required to achieve very high penetration of variable renewable electricity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1817-1830, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jaime Terceiro Lomba, 2019. "The energy transition and the financial system," Revista de Estabilidad Financiera, Banco de España;Revista de Estabilidad Financiera Homepage, issue Autumn.
    2. Geoffrey Heal, 2019. "The Cost of a Carbon-Free Electricity System in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 26084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Yeva Nersisyan & L. Randall Wray, 2019. "How to Pay for the Green New Deal," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_931, Levy Economics Institute.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy


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