I recently unveiled the framework for a “Green Real Deal” on behalf of the Energy Futures Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Innovates conference in Washington, D.C. Building upon several months of analytical work, the Green Real Deal framework offers broad principles that are based on a commitment to realistic, actionable, and meaningful progress towards a low-carbon economy.
The Green Real Deal must be a very pragmatic program data-driven, science-based, and analytically supported. Principles like innovation are at the core of the solution. A wise and just transition to a low-carbon economy, moving as fast as is technically and socially possible, must minimize stranded physical assets as well as stranded workers and communities. Such a plan is based on practicality, not ideology.
The Green New Deal, a congressional resolution, does not offer detailed energy sector-specific technology or policy solutions for achieving its ambitious agenda. While it has helped shine an important spotlight on the climate crisis, elements of the resolution, such as going to zero carbon in a 10-year time frame, are largely impractical. And if we start putting out impractical targets, we may lose a lot of key constituencies who we need to bring along to have a real low-carbon solution on the most rapid time frame that we can achieve.
Summarized below, the principles of the Green Real Deal are designed to foster a broad coalition and turn climate ambitions into meaningful actions. I encourage you to review the full document, and I welcome your feedback.
Principles of the Green Real Deal
- Technology, Business Model, and Policy Innovations Are Essential. Incremental and breakthrough innovations must be developed to meet the challenges of deep decarbonization, including the rising marginal costs of abating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- Broad and Inclusive Coalitions Must Be Built. Finding common cause among businesses, consumers, governments, and advocacy groups, proactively addressing conflict, and ensuring all members of society benefit from a transformation to a low-carbon economy will put wind in the sails of meaningful action.
- Social Equity Is Essential for Success. The transformation of energy and associated systems must also improve lives, grow public acceptance of the widespread change required to address climate change, and provide meaningful, well-paying jobs.
- All GHG Emitting Sectors Must be Addressed in Climate Solutions. Electricity is only 28 percent of U.S. emissions and is arguably the easiest to decarbonize. Sectoral analyses—electricity, transportation, industry, buildings and agriculture—will be central to identifying solutions and advancing innovation and net zero emissions targets.
- Optionality and Flexibility are Needed for Technologies, Policies, and Investments. Multiple clean energy technology options are needed for each sector of the economy and region of the country—this requires technology and policy options and flexibility.