In an article tackling the diversity of energy sources used, and how to decarbonize the whole economy, The Christian Science Monitor quoted Near Zero’s Danny Cullenward:

“There’s more research saying it’s going to be extremely inefficient and costly to run a grid solely on variable energy like the sun and the wind – even if you allow for heroic progress on energy storage,” says Danny Cullenward, an energy economist who serves on an independent advisory commission on California’s climate policies.

And when the price tag rises for action on climate change, he adds, “those costs will eventually be seen and will affect the politics.”

That doesn’t mean support for greening the energy system is about to crumble in states like California and New York. But costs do matter, even in liberal states, at a time when about one-third of Americans say they doubt global warming is caused mostly by human carbon emissions.

“I’m optimistic … we’ll find affordable ways to get this done,” Dr. Cullenward says of the energy transition. But “it’s not a small undertaking.”

… California and New York are arguably America’s leaders on this front, as large states that have set ambitious goals. Yet even they are feeling their way on a journey where it’s a lot easier to get to a 50 percent reduction in emissions than to achieve the more complete “decarbonization” of economies that scientists see as the real target.

“We haven’t figured it out just yet,” Cullenward says.

The article also cites Near Zero’s recent research note, “Ready, Fire, Aim: ARB’s Overallocation Report Misses Its Target,” and Cullenward’s testimony in a May 24 hearing of California’s Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies:

“I believe you can reach any carbon goal using market-based policies,” says Lucas Davis, an energy economist at the Berkeley Haas School of Business in California. But “it would require the political will of maintaining higher prices on carbon than we currently have.”

This issue is a live one. New York is considering a new carbon tax. And on Thursday a legislative committee in California heard arguments [by Near Zero’s Cullenward] that the state’s economy-wide “cap and trade” program for emissions needs to be more stringent.

Read the full article, “Is ditching fossil fuels entirely a reasonable goal?” by Mark Turnbull on The Christian Science Monitor website.