Climate expert suggests Biden will have to 'admit there will be tradeoffs' to reach zero carbon goal

Joe Biden.
(Image credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Climate activists and scientists have generally received former Vice President Joe Biden's plan to eliminate U.S. carbon emissions by 2035 warmly, but there will likely be some backlash ahead, especially regarding a potential reliance on wind and solar alternatives, The Guardian reports.

David Keith, a climate and energy expert at Harvard University who co-authored research in 2018 that found America's transition to solar and particularly wind would require up to 20 times more land area than previously thought, said windmills certainly shouldn't be abandoned moving forward, but suggested they could be limited. "You should tilt the energy system toward low land footprints, which means focusing on solar, nuclear, and carbon capture and storage, with wind at the margins," he told The Guardian.

Keith added that if the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee defeats President Trump, the incoming Biden administration will need to "admit there will be tradeoffs for a shared national goal" and that "there will be local decisions people don't like" en route to an emission-free future.

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But while there are concerns about the effect renewable energy systems can have on land and biodiversity, Melissa Lott, a senior research scholar at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, said the side effects of renewables are unequivocally worth getting to zero carbon. Read more at The Guardian.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.