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50% Carbon-neutral electricity by 2025?

At the recent North American Leaders' Summit in Canada, the leaders of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico announced a goal -- a "deliverable" in the official parlance -- of having 50% of North American electricity generation come from zero-carbon sources by 2025. Such an energy mix would bring North America more into line with Europe. Recent statistics show that just under 50% of European electricity generation comes from combustible fuels.

The Leaders' Summit goal would represent a material step in the direction of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, but it may be difficult to achieve in practice. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, current electricity generation capacity for the United States from zero-carbon sources is 33% (20% nuclear, 6% hydro-power, and 7% other sources such as wind, geothermal and solar). The corresponding figure when Canada and Mexico are added in is 37%. Raising the fraction significantly will require both substantial investments in infrastructure and disciplined political support.

Admittedly, resolution dates lying a decade in the future are not for the impatient (and they telegraph smug confidence in Metaculus' long-term success). Nonetheless, a question such as this, which gauges a near-term consensus on prospects, can give clarity on whether a long-term goal can be feasibly reached.

By 2025, will more than 50% of North America's electrical generation capacity be provided by zero-carbon sources?


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