The 100% Solution: A Plan for Solving Climate Change

The 100% Solution: A Plan for Solving Climate Change

by Solomon Goldstein-Rose


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"At last—a global plan that actually adds up."—James Hansen, former director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

The world must reach negative greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Yet no single plan has addressed the full scope of the problem—until now.

In The 100% Solution, Solomon Goldstein-Rose—a leading millennial climate activist and a former Massachusetts state representative—makes clear what needs to happen to hit the 2050 target: the manufacturing booms we must spur, the moonshot projects we must fund, the amount of CO2 we'll have to sequester from the atmosphere, and much more.

Most importantly, he shows us the more prosperous and equitable world we can build by uniting the efforts of activists, industries, governments, scientists, and voters to get the job done.

This is the guide we've been waiting for. As calls for a WWII-scale mobilization intensify—especially among youth activists—this fully illustrated, action-oriented book arms us with specific demands, sets the stakes for what our leaders must achieve, and proves that with this level of comprehensive thinking we can still take back our future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612198385
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication date: 03/31/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 453,896
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Solomon Goldstein-Rose was elected to the Massachusetts legislature on a climate change-focused platform at age 22. He previously interned in the Obama White House and in Congress, and ran a statewide carbon pricing campaign. He lives in Amherst, MA. For more see:

Read an Excerpt

I’m twenty-six years old, and I can’t remember a time before I understood and worried about climate change. Most Millennials take for granted that climate change is a serious problem that will cause devastating floods, droughts, storm damage, illnesses, and large-scale human and animal displacement in our lifetimes. And we know that if we don’t reverse the current trend of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects will reach a new order of magnitude within our children’s lifetimes.

Solving climate change is more important for our future than tackling many other worthwhile causes, because so many issues—poverty, disease, immigration politics—cannot improve if climate change worsens.

Like most people of my generation, I want to live in a safe world and pass on a better one to my children. Throughout my life, I’ve asked myself what I could do to help solve climate change. This drew me to study engineering, and later public policy; spurred me to run for Massachusetts state legislature right after college and get elected at age twenty-two on a climate-focused platform; drove me to spend thousands of hours reaching out to energy system experts, professors, startups, and fellow activists to understand the ins and outs of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change solutions; and prompted my recent shift to full-time climate change work.

This book is a product of that work. Along the way, I realized that most people, including me, tend to take on pieces of the problem that seem achievable, but don’t understand whether or how those pieces might contribute to a solution that addresses the full picture. Perhaps most significantly, few people take into account the importance of developing countries, which emit two-thirds of global greenhouse gases each year.

Most of the specific ideas here have been written about before by other experts. The point of this book is to tie it all together into a framework that gives us a comprehensive perspective on what is needed so we can be more focused and effective in our advocacy.

Despite so much amazing work done over the years, the world is still nowhere near on track to solve climate change. The problem is not only worsening, it’s worsening at an accelerating pace as we continue to add greenhouse gases tothe atmosphere each year. The efforts of global agreements, national and state-level advocacy, and corporate promises combined have all failed to set us on a path that could add up to a complete reversal of greenhouse gas emissions in the timeframe laid out by the latest science—a 100% solution.

Part of our failure to act is because people haven’t been totally sure what action is truly needed. For example, the school climate strike movement that youth leader Greta Thunberg is heading has repeatedly put out statements calling for policymakers to “act” but not specifying what exactly they should do. Sometimes they’ve specifically said that it’s up to the adults to figure that out. Meanwhile, legislators, who generally have equally incomplete understandings of energy and agricultural systems, push for incremental steps they see as politically viable and “in the right direction” without any sense of whether those steps could possibly add up to solving the problem globally. The US Millennial–led Sunrise Movement and related groups have called for a World War II–scale mobilization, which is an apt analogy for the general scale needed, but, within that broad vision, what exactly is needed? What constitutes “enough” to solve climate change? Without knowing the answer, we have no metric against which to judge political proposals or with which to guide how we direct our efforts.

This book has two goals. The first is to demonstrate how much bigger we need to be thinking if we’re going to actually meet the consensus goal of climate scientists and the United Nation —reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels by the year 2050. The second goal is to lay out a specific framework, which is both technically and politically viable, that actually does add up to a 100% solution to climate change. My hope is that, with a specific blueprint to rally around, climate movements can focus their efforts and achieve more concrete results.

To be sure, small-scale actions will be necessary—someone has to carry out every little piece of the pillars I present here— but to be confident that those efforts will all add up in time, someone also has to be thinking about the comprehensive picture. That’s the missing piece right now, and I hope this book will empower activists and the presidents and prime ministers they elect to be those comprehensive thinkers.

• • • •

This book’s framework centers on five pillars of action that add up to a 100% solution:

1. Deploy clean electricity generation.
2. Electrify equipment that can be electrified.
3. Create synthesized carbon-neutral fuels for equipment that can’t be electrified or isn’t electrified by 2050.
4. Implement various non-energy shifts, especially in agriculture.
5. Make up for the remaining emissions and get to negative emissions using sequestration.

This framework is compatible with various particular visions, proposals, and bills. In the United States for example, if Democrats who support a Green New Deal win enough Congressional seats and the presidency in the 2020 elections, that program would have a chance of achieving a 100% solution to climate change—so long as its specifics, when they are fleshed out, meet all the criteria of this framework. Or Republican Senator Lamar Alexander’s suggestion for a New Manhattan Project and similar proposals that might come from members of Congress could provide a 100% solution if fleshed out to meet all the same criteria. Other proposals that residential candidates might put forward could do the same in slightly different ways.

Or perhaps the United States will fail to take sufficient action and the president of China or a coalition of European and Asian countries will carry out the necessary projects instead. Or perhaps several political groups will propose different solutions that each add up to 100% but come with different benefits or costs. There are more efficient and less efficient ways to get to a full solution, but what matters most is that we achieve that full solution by 2050.

• • • •

Despite a lot of implied and outright cynicism, it is possible to solve climate change fully by 2050. Yet, currently no proposal is on the table that specifically addresses the full scope of solutions needed, in part because there hasn’t been a common frame of reference for what amounts to “enough.”

Without key leaders taking a comprehensive view, we may not realize the need for certain tactics or the urgency of others. With a comprehensive view, the strategy becomes clearer, and we may find that the solutions to climate change that can actually add up are in fact more politically viable than the scattered actions we’ve attempted up to this point.

Indeed, the 100% solution laid out in this framework could be accomplished without personal or lifestyle sacrifices, without slow-moving international cooperation, and without compromising global economic development. Focused on innovation, and bolstered by policy wherever possible, this framework requires only the initiative of a small number of key entities to carry out the minimum required steps. Let’s make it happen.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Solutions Must Add Up

1 The Full Scale of the Problem 9

2 Global Emissions, Global Solutions 25

3 Eliminating All Emissions 41

4 Moonshot Projects 61

Part 2 What Has to Happen

5 Pillar 1: Electricity Generation 83

6 Pillar 2: Electrification 117

7 Pillar 3: Synthesized Fuels 125

8 Pillar 4: Non-Energy Shifts 141

9 Pillar 5: Sequestration 169

Part 3 How To Get To Work

10 Beyond the Five Pillars 199

11 Political Leadership 213

12 Key Prescriptions 237

Conclusion 257

Acknowledgments 263

Endnotes 267

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