UVA Offers a Guide to Going Carbon Free

Jan 11, 2021

Faced with climate changes that are taking a toll on our shoreline, our forests and farms, Virginia has agreed to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050. 

To see if that’s actually possible and to explain what we’ll have to do over the next thirty years, experts at the University of Virginia have produced a report called Decarbonizing Virginia’s Economy.

UVA Economist Bill Shobe and his team at the Weldon Cooper Center drafted a report outlining paths for Virginia to end carbon emissions by 2050.
Credit UVA

Can we do it?  "Yes!" says Professor Bill Shobe, an economist who directed the study.  But to get there, the report spells out four things we need to do.  First, we conserve – reducing the amount of power needed to travel, manufacture, heat and cool.  Second, we replace fossil fuels like coal and gas with things that don’t pollute the air – wind, solar and nuclear.  Then, we promote a move to electricity in our homes, our factories and on the road.

“Many observers now think that this is essentially inevitable – that pretty soon electric vehicles will be cheaper than regular old internal combustion engines, and so the economy is going to shift over to electric vehicles gradually,” he explains.

But Shobe says we need to speed up the transition

“One of the things we could do is to ensure that there are plenty of charging stations out there for people who own electric vehicles.”

He says we must also promote ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere – new technologies and natural processes.

“Forests, fields, coastal estuaries all sequester lots of carbon, and we can change the way we manage forests and farms and estuaries to enhance the amount of carbon they sequester.”

Finally, the report calls for a new state agency to facilitate the transition.