To tackle a topic as monumental and divisive as climate change, it will take a politically realistic and technologically inclusive agenda built on advancing clean power around the world.
Last Congress, we saw bipartisan support on issues such as a key tax incentive for carbon capture, and a similar fix for advanced nuclear. Legislators found common ground as they focused on both climate benefits and economics.
The reality is that any impractical and hasty move toward an all-renewable power strategy in the U.S. will not only be too partisan, but it will also fail to affect the global emissions equation. Declining coal use in the U.S. and Europe is outweighed by gains in India and China, and cheap, plentiful natural gas is booming the world over.
Moving toward an all-renewable power sector in a decade as called for under the Green New Deal could have unintended repercussions. As we have seen in Germany, it can put renewable power growth at risk if you move too fast and put too much pressure on it to carry the power grid load. It’s both a reliability and a cost risk.
We need technologies that scale faster, perform better, and are cheaper than the alternatives so that the rapidly developing world chooses them instead of higher-emitting options. We should continue to focus on demonstrating and commercializing U.S. clean energy technologies, such as NET Power’s revolutionary Allam Cycle carbon capture technology, energy storage beyond lithium-ion batteries, and small modular nuclear and microreactor efforts from NuScale Power and others.
Small, incremental policy changes can result in large outcomes such as the shale gas revolution and cheap solar power. Similarly, Congress and the Administration can work to deliver a series of incremental bipartisan clean energy and climate policies in the next two years, including smart federal R&D moonshot goals across the clean energy portfolio, enacting a new tech-neutral energy innovation tax credit, and approving a bipartisan advanced nuclear blueprint introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and others. Let’s keep strong, solutions-oriented work going forward in areas where the parties are in agreement. That’s bipartisan. That’s apolitical. That can work.