Washington, D.C. — Direct federal investments in infrastructure can reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 13 percent below current levels by 2030, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.
“Climate change will bring more supercharged hurricanes like Dorian, with extra rain and storm surge wreaking havoc on communities,” said Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for Energy and Environment Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “It’s more urgent than ever that Congress pursue all avenues to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change, including through direct federal spending. Federal investment in infrastructure should be considered one of many tools that the government can use to reduce carbon pollution.”
The report quantifies for the first time actual reductions in emissions that can be achieved from certain investments in infrastructure. It also notes that while infrastructure investment is just one tool among many needed to build a 100 percent clean energy economy, it can cut more than 800 million metric tons of carbon pollution over the next decade—a 13 percent reduction from current levels and the rough equivalent of annual emissions from 205 coal-fired power plants.
These infrastructure investments would also fund major public projects and target investment to communities who may not attract the attention of private investors, such as rural areas and low-income households.
The report lays out specific actions that Congress and the federal government can take now that can have a major impact. It prioritizes infrastructure investments based on existing federal programs that could be expanded, where the infrastructure is federally owned or operated, or where there are significant market failures that demand a more robust government response. It also calculates emissions reduction potential per federal dollar invested.
The report’s recommendations include:
- Accelerate renewable energy deployment by reviving and revising a program offering grants in lieu of tax credits, forgiving debts at rural electric co-ops, and increasing investment in transmission infrastructure
- Cut transportation emissions by helping school districts and municipalities purchase electric buses, transition the federal fleet to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles, and expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- Cut building emissions and energy use by improving energy efficiency and increasing on-site clean energy generation in public buildings, commercial buildings, and residential housing
- Create a grant program to support industrial energy efficiency improvements and electrified equipment purchases
- Support state efforts to phase out superpolluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and incentivize private companies to find and dispose of HFC stocks.
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