These Researchers Say the Cost of Saving the Planet Amid Climate Change Could Be as Cheap as $1 a Day

Wind turbines
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Can the United States reach carbon neutrality by 2050? California researchers think so –– and even say we can do so at an incredibly low cost of only $1 a day, according to a new study.

Can the United States reach carbon neutrality by 2050? California researchers think so –– and even say the U.S. can run mainly on renewable energy by mid-century if every citizen paid $1 a day, according to a new study.

It would end up being an "infrastructure transformation," said senior scientist Margaret, Torn who works at the University of California-Berkeley. 

But how does this look in practice? 

Researchers say that increasing solar and wind capacity, electric vehicles, reducing the level of coal production, and several other methods can lead to a promising future, according to the recently published study. 

“No one is asking consumers to switch out their brand-new car for an electric vehicle,” Torn said. “The point is that efficient, low-carbon technologies need to be used when it comes time to replace the current equipment.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world must achieve the goal of zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 in order to limit the devastating impacts caused by global warming. By limiting emissions, the global community would be preventing a temperature increase going beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Net-zero would mean there is a balance between the greenhouse gas emissions that are put into the atmosphere and those taken out, the study explains.

A detailed model of the entire U.S. energy and the industrial system was created as a method to project how to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050. The study used 16 geographic regions for hypothetical scenarios.

And, the cost of it all can be relatively low. The cost of wind and solar-powered batteries for cars has dropped dramatically and quicker than expected.

But, human actions in the next decade will be transformative.

The U.S. could be on track to reducing carbon emissions and rescuing the planet before irreversible damage is done.