Rubin co-authors report guiding U.S. toward carbon-neutral economy

The director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center co-authored a strategic plan to guide the U.S. toward a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 as a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN USA).

University of Maine economist Jonathan Rubin and other members of SDSN USA, which was launched to implement the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, released America’s Zero Carbon Action plan. The network will deliver its plan to the executive branch and Congress in November.

The comprehensive policy report provides pathways for decarbonizing power systems, transportation, food and land use, industry, buildings and materials. Using the latest modeling and research, the plan also illustrates how achieving a net-zero carbon emission economy backed by renewable energy is possible and would only cost 0.4% more than the fossil-fuel support economy. It also details how initiatives will spur net employment gain with millions of new jobs each year.

“The roadmap is a science-based, realistic assessment of how we can get to zero carbon emissions,” says Rubin, also a professor of resource economics and policy at UMaine. “We kept our goals in mind: zero carbon emissions in transportation, fairness and enhancing economic opportunities. Something this complex and important will evolve, but we point to ways to help move the nation forward.”

The SDSN USA will host a free webinar focusing on the chapter of the report that details decarbonizing the transportation sector at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Rubin will serve on the webinar panel and discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and other transportation resources in rural areas. Anyone interested in attending the public webinar can register online.

“We will briefly outline the roadmap and leave lots of time for people to ask questions and interact with the panel.” Rubin says.

America’s Zero Carbon Action plan was drafted by the Zero Carbon Consortium, a coalition of about 100 experts in climate change policy, clean energy pathways modeling, industrial policy, regulatory policy and other related fields.

Co-authoring report appealed to Rubin’s expertise in transportation, energy and the environment. The UMaine economist served six years as chair of the Environment and Energy Section of the U.S. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.