ARJUN MAKHIJANI, Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, August 2007
The 12 most critical policies that need to be enacted as urgently as possible for achieving a zero-CO2 economy without nuclear power are as follows.
1. Enact a physical limit of CO2 emissions for all large users of fossil fuels (a “hard cap”) that steadily declines to zero prior to 2060, with the time schedule being assessed periodically for tightening according to climate, technological, and economic developments. The cap should be set at the level of some year prior to 2007, so that early implementers of CO2 reductions benefit from the setting of the cap. Emission allowances would be sold by the U.S. government for use in the United States only. There would be no free allowances, no offsets and no international sale or purchase of CO2 allowances. The estimated revenues – approximately $30 to $50 billion per year – would be used for demonstration plants, research and development, and worker and community transition.
2. Eliminate all subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels and nuclear power (including guarantees for nuclear waste disposal from new power plants, loan guarantees, and subsidized insurance).
3. Eliminate subsidies for biofuels from food crops.
4. Build demonstration plants for key supply technologies, including central station solar thermal with heat storage, large- and intermediate-scale solar photovoltaics, and CO2 capture in microalgae for liquid fuel production (and production of a high solar energy capture aquatic plants, for instance in wetlands constructed at municipal wastewater systems).
5. Leverage federal, state and local purchasing power to create markets for critical advanced technologies, including plug-in hybrids.
6. Ban new coal-fired power plants that do not have carbon storage.
7. Enact at the federal level high efficiency standards for appliances.
8. Enact stringent building efficiency standards at the state and local levels, with federal incentives to adopt them.
9. Enact stringent efficiency standards for vehicles and make plug-in hybrids the standard U.S. government vehicle by 2015.
10. Put in place federal contracting procedures to reward early adopters of CO2 reductions.
11. Adopt vigorous research, development, and pilot plant construction programs for technologies that could accelerate the elimination of CO2, such as direct electrolytic hydrogen production, solar hydrogen production (photolytic, photoelectrochemical, and other approaches), hot rock geothermal power, and integrated gasification combined cycle plants using biomass with a capacity to sequester the CO2.
12. Establish a standing committee on Energy and Climate under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.
Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, Maryland, is the book’s author. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in nuclear fusion and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Among his book’s recommendations:
“Continuing on a ‘business as usual’ path is unacceptable, as other experts have made clear,” Dr. Makhijani explained. “The approaches outlined in my book are all technologically feasible and economically viable today or could be made so within a decade by sound government and private investment. Nuclear power, on the other hand, entails risks of proliferation, terrorism and serious accidents. The United States can lead the world to a fully renewable, efficient energy economy, which can be achieved in 30 to 50 years.”