Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom are recent countries to declare a climate emergency. Neither country has an economy as large as California’s. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, and like the rest of the world we are using more not less energy, according to the British Petroleum (BP) 2019 Statistical Review of Energy.

Energy analysts who either pro-renewable, pro-fossil fuel, or ones who consider an all-of-the-above approach, the best solutions would tell you there are scientific and economic constraints to entirely phasing out fossil fuels. The American Green New Deal wants do away with all fossil fuels from the U.S. power grid by 2030, and alleviate gasoline and petroleum from the transportation sector without giving details for how that would work.  

Governments led by Green parties in the U.K., Canada and the U.S. Democratic Party continue down this path of rapidly scaling down fossil fuels. The BP Review, however, conservatively estimates that 80 percent of the world’s energy needs are being met by fossil fuels, and by 2050 believe renewables only have the capacity to reach 25-30 percent of global energy needs. 

California is a global economy, and will likely run into problems attempting to do away with fossil fuels and convert to renewables only by 2050.

The BP Review is considered the gold standard of overall energy reviews that includes fossil fuels, nuclear, hydroelectric and renewables – all current forms of energy.

From Denmark to Minnesota and now California, any government that embraces a clean energy transition without understanding the amount of land, money, and technological constraints of renewables unleashes political turmoil. In 2018 the World Energy Outlook (WEO) was released by the International Energy Agency and determined, “the percentage of total global primary energy demand provided by wind and solar was 1.1 percent.” If California continues down this path, U.S. political turmoil will intensify followed by increased electricity prices, and a self-imposed economic downturn.

To achieve zero carbon, or even severely limit carbon, will be a government takeover of the economy. Climate Mobilization is an environmental organization that is currently promoting climate emergency declarations said, “Only WWII-scale Climate Mobilization can protect humanity and the natural world.”

Using Canada as an example, which has nowhere near the size of California’s economy, here is what it would take to do away with fossil fuel, and the numbers are not encouraging. Aldyen Donnelly, a Vancouver energy consultant calculated:

“To produce the electric power needed to offset the lost fossil fuel energy, Canada would have to build 2.5 hydro power dams the size of British Columbia’s $13-billion Site C project somewhere in the country ‘every year for the foreseeable future.’”

Globally, world consumption of fossil fuels “rose to 11,685 million tonnes oil equivalent (mtoe),” and to achieve zero carbon would require alternative energy sources that have not been invented. University of Colorado scientist Roger Pielke Jr. did some approximate, rough numbers that can be extrapolated for California, using the number (11,161 days) until 2050. 

Achieving net zero status for California, or any other global economy in the world – say the G20 – “would require replacing one mtoe of fossil fuel consumption every day starting now.” This transition would need nuclear energy and “require building the equivalent of one new 1.5-gigawatt nuclear plant every day for the next 30 years.” California will have phased out of nuclear energy within the next 5-10 years.

California wants all energy for electricity to come from renewables, and the U.S. government postulates it basically requires

“Three million solar panels to produce one gigawatts of energy, which means that by 2050 the world will need 3,000,000 X 11,685 solar panels to offset fossil fuels.” 

Wind farms would need to be erected that had at least “430 new wind turbines each of the 11,865 days leading to 2050.” At this stage of energy development there isn’t any feasible technology that meets the criteria that energy for over 7 billion people globally, or 40 million in California need on a daily basis, which is scalable, reliable, affordable, abundant and flexible. Only oil, petroleum, natural gas, and coal meet those requirements today, out to 2050, and for the rest of this century.