Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Energy
Section Title: Energy
Section Subtitle: Energy for a safe climate and a cleaner world
Our position: Greens will rapidly reduce our nation's energy consumption and shift to the use of clean, renewable, local energy sources.
Our nation has a fossil-fueled economy. Our infrastructure is designed for, and utterly dependent on, plentiful oil, coal, and natural gas. We have built an extensive network of highways and airports used by great numbers of cars, trucks and airplanes. Our shopping malls are filled with imported products. Our food system uses fossil fuels for mechanizing production, for fertilizer and to kill weeds and pests. Then we transport food ever further distances to giant supermarkets accessed almost exclusively by private automobiles. Most of our homes are heated with fossil fuels and we have built countless car dependent neighborhoods. Our electric grid system depends on fossil fuels for two-thirds of its energy.
Burning fossil fuel releases enormous quantities ancient carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that are changing the global climate, and thus reducing the survival prospects of future generations. If humanity and other species are to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must begin reducing fossil carbon dioxide emissions immediately, and bring them virtually to zero before mid-century.
Simple substitution won’t work. To substitute better energy sources in place of fossil fuels is not the answer for two main reasons. First, there are no energy sources (renewable or otherwise) capable of supplying energy as cheaply and in such abundance as fossil fuels currently yield in the time that we need them to come online. Second, we have designed and built the infrastructure of our transport, electricity, and food systems – as well as our national building stock – to suit the unique characteristics of oil, natural gas, and coal. Changing to different energy sources will require the redesign of many aspects of those systems.
The energy transition cannot be accomplished with a minor retrofit of existing energy infrastructure. Just as our fossil fuel economy differs from the agrarian economy of 1800, the post-fossil fuel economy of 2050 will be profoundly different from all that we are familiar with now. The differences will be in urban design and land use patterns, food systems, manufacturing and distribution networks, the job market, transportation systems, health care, tourism, and more.
It can be argued that these changes will occur if we wait for the market price of fossil fuels to reflect scarcity with higher costs forcing society to adapt. However, at least a decade of lead time is required for any kind of orderly transition to a new energy paradigm. Lack of government planning will result in a transition that is chaotic, painful, destructive, and possibly unsurvivable. We need to reduce our energy consumption and restructure our economy to run primarily on renewable energy.
Encourage conservation to reduce energy consumption
1. Enact national energy efficiency standards with a goal of reducing energy consumption at least 40% by 2020.
2. Support building codes for new construction that incorporate the best available energy conservation designs. Retrofit millions of existing buildings and homes for energy efficiency.
3. Support a carbon tax to increase energy conservation and efficiency.
Swiftly transition to safe and clean energy
1. Move decisively to solar, wind, geo-thermal, marine and other cleaner renewable energy sources.
2. Research and increased government support for new energy storage technologies, new cheaper and non-toxic photovoltaic materials and processes, and new geothermal and ocean power technologies.
3. Support financing policies to help homeowners generate renewable energy.
4. Support research into advanced fuels, such as non-fossil. nuclear-based hydrogen, when the purpose of the research is to develop a fuel that in its full cycle does not create more problems than it solves.
End the Use of Dirty and Dangerous Energy Sources
1. Phase-out of all nuclear and coal power plants.
2. A moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, the early retirement of existing nuclear power reactors, and the phase-out of technologies that use or produce nuclear waste, such as nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all commercial and military uses of depleted uranium.
3. Terminate public subsidies or bailouts for nuclear power.
4. Ban mountaintop removal coal mining.
5. Cease the development of fuels produced with polluting, energy-intensive processes or from unsustainable or toxic feedstocks, such as genetically-engineered crops, coal and waste streams contaminated with persistent toxics.
6. Support community-scale renewable and biofuels fuel production programs that recover otherwise wasted biomass or utilize clean primary energy sources such as wind and solar.
1. Plan for decentralized, bio-regional electricity generation and distribution.
2. Oppose deregulation of the electric industry and strongly support public power.
3. Set goals and standards and to provide public investment capital for decentralized municipal power systems.
4. Support incentives for small-scale, local, low-input producers.