Today’s Solutions: August 11, 2022

When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, electric cars and solar panels always steal the spotlight. But there is another major thing that flies under the radar that must be addressed if we want to tackle climate change: buildings. As the Green New Deal acknowledges, buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of global annual greenhouse gas emissions and roughly the same portion of US emissions. Part of that is the “embedded emissions” represented by building materials such as steel and concrete. An even bigger part is from direct combustion of fossil fuels for space and water heating. That’s why if we want to drastically reduce carbon emissions, we need to decarbonize buildings. It’s a daunting task, but fortunately, a diverse political coalition has come together to create a bold new plan for decarbonizing California’s building sector. The first part of the plan is to stop building new buildings that rely on fossil fuels. The second part is where the real challenge comes into play as it requires decarbonizing existing buildings in California, which presents many hurdles. However, if this California coalition can successfully show that it’s possible to tackle one of the hardest, unsexiest parts of climate policy, then it will serve as a blueprint for the rest of America. 

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