A majority of clean energy advocates believe that the world has all the low-carbon technologies it needs to address climate change; what we lack is the political will to mandate and subsidize their deployment. To support this view holders of this “Clean Energy Deployment Consensus” point to a range of studies purporting to demonstrate technological readiness. Unfortunately, as ITIF shows in its new report Challenging the Clean Energy Deployment Consensus these reports either gloss over major challenges, including significantly higher costs of clean technologies, sub-optimal performance, and challenges in grid integration and storage or advocates miss their critical message on the need for innovation. Without a comprehensive and aggressive innovation strategy clean energy will not be cheap enough and good enough to be adopted voluntarily around the planet.
Energy & Climate
Challenging the Clean Energy Deployment Consensus
Should U.S. Climate Policy Focus More on Innovation?
Most clean energy advocates believe that the world has all the low-carbon technologies needed to effectively address climate change; suggesting that the world doesn’t need technology breakthroughs, but political breakthroughs to drive widespread deployment of clean energy technologies. ITIF characterizes this thinking as the “Clean Energy Deployment Consensus,” and argues that it translates to a policy environment heavily weighted towards deployment subsidies, mandates, and carbon prices. ITIF’s new report, Challenging the Clean Energy Deployment Consensus, argues that the world needs a more comprehensive Innovation Consensus that focuses on developing and deploying affordable clean energy technologies that are cost- and performance-competitive with fossil fuels. Matthew Stepp moderates a discussion between energy experts on OurEnergyPolicy.org that confronts the question of whether the world actually has all the clean technologies it needs, or if there is room for additional policy support for innovation to improve clean energy technologies.
A Climate Policy that Would Actually Work
In an op-ed for The Hill, Stepp and Trembath argue that carbon taxes are doomed to fail because they do little to drive what is needed most: innovation that generates affordable clean energy that all seven billion humans will want to adopt, not out of altruism or coercion, but out of self-interest. To truly address climate change government must focus on developing policies that create a robust clean energy ecosystem that can produce the new ideas, technologies and products necessary to get us to zero emissions.