Future of Planet Takes Center Stage at COP25
The clock is ticking on climate change. It’s a worldwide threat. Just days before the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change, or COP25, the Global Carbon Project released a report stating that carbon dioxide emissions, a main contributor to greenhouse gases, are expected to reach a record high this year. Scientists say GHG emissions must be reduced to zero by 2050.
The effect of GHG emissions are a driving force behind Southern California’s periods of extreme drought and bigger and more destructive wildfires.
It’s why government leaders, scientists, environmental groups, labor and business leaders, including Edison International’s President and CEO Pedro Pizarro, are gathered in Madrid at COP25. Attendees are exchanging ideas and solutions critical to stopping climate change. The longer we wait to address GHG emissions, the harder and costlier it becomes and the consequences of inaction increase.
“One challenge in addressing climate change is creating a sense of urgency,” said Pizarro, at the “Corporate Climate Leaders: Getting to Zero” meeting on Dec. 7. “The health of the entire planet is at stake and the U.S. must take a leadership role in fighting climate change.”
In the U.S., states, regional governments and industry see the clear need to engage and actively address this existential threat.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 23 states and the District of Columbia have implemented statewide GHG reduction targets. Furthermore, 24 states have committed to upholding the U.S. commitment of reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 by joining the United States Climate Alliance.
“2050 is around the corner, there are huge technological, economic and cultural gaps that need to be overcome. Those gaps are achievable,” said Pizarro. “It requires an integrated, holistic and balanced approach to climate change.”
California views climate change as a direct threat to the state and its residents and has carbon neutrality and clean energy goals as a result. It’s a view shared by nearly two-thirds of Californians who support the state’s actions because they believe climate change is already affecting our environment.
According to Pizarro, California is a microcosm of the U.S. and of the world and gives us a sense of the challenges ahead and some approaches that we could take to reach carbon neutrality. Southern California Edison has been working to incorporate additional clean energy into the grid, but reducing emissions from electric companies alone won’t be enough to meet the state’s environmental goals.
One challenge in addressing climate change is creating a sense of urgency. The health of the entire planet is at stake and the U.S. must take a leadership role in fighting climate change.”Pedro Pizarro, President and CEO
It outlines an integrated approach, defined by three pillars:
- Deep decarbonization of the electric sector.
- Significant electrification of transportation and buildings coupled with advanced energy efficiency.
- Use of low-carbon fuels like renewable natural gas or hydrogen produced with electricity for hard-to-electrify applications, such as industrial uses and heavy-duty long-range transportation of goods.
Transportation, along with related upstream emissions, contributes to almost half of the state’s GHG emissions and is an area of focus in Pathway 2045. It calls for the electrification of three out of four light-duty vehicles, two out of every three medium-duty vehicles, and around and one in three heavy-duty vehicles in California. That’s about 26 million cars, 900,000 vehicles like box trucks and about 170,000 big rigs. In addition, nearly 70% of building space and water heating in California will need to be electric.
Meeting the state’s goals will require everyone —industry, labor, environmental groups, customers and government — working to solving the climate crisis. The good news is we are making progress. This year in the U.S. we cut our carbon emissions by 1.7%. And, in California as of 2017 overall emissions fell 1% and the electric sector accounted for only 19% of the state’s GHG emissions.