Nuclear Plant

Credit: www.tvo.fi

What About Climate?

Is this project actually a covert effort to price or regulate carbon dioxide? No.

Will this initiative reduce CO2 emissions through innovation? Yes.

This project seeks to reform American energy innovation policies and institutions to make them more effective and efficient because we believe that is essential to securing America’s energy future. We are working for policies that will meet America’s energy needs, and the world’s. Our focus is not on carbon or climate—but we do believe that these policies will reduce CO2 emissions in the long run.

Many of the greatest opportunity for innovation are in low- and zero-emissions technologies, so reforming the innovation system will inevitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is a good thing. Although the risks of climate change are uncertain and contested, they cannot be zero. Policies that manage those risks by fostering advanced energy innovation are an indispensable element of any prudent climate policy.

This initiative seeks to fix the American energy innovation system writ large, without a particular focus on greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon-intensive forms of energy may also benefit from such reforms. May the best technologies win.

We advocate for innovation policy reforms that are urgently needed, irrespective of climate, because climate has become a needlessly divisive issue in the larger landscape of energy policy. There is much that Americans could agree upon in energy policy if climate was not the focus.

While choosing to set those debates aside, however, we note that our agenda could nevertheless be seen as an example of the approach to climate policy that conservatives used to espouse. Beginning in the George H. W. Bush administration, many conservatives advocated a “no-regrets” climate policy—the belief that we should take steps to improve our energy system in ways that would reduce our climate risks, but which we would not regret if those risks turn out to be overstated.

We believe that the opportunities to reduce climate risks through an innovation-centered “no-regrets” policy have never been greater than they are today. Different parties may make their own judgment as to how many “regrets” we should risk on climate-conscious policies, but everyone should be able to agree that fixing America’s energy innovation system makes sense.