Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.” How much do you know about clean energy in the U.S?
A. The U.S. is a leader in developing clean energy technology.
B. In order to combat climate change, we need to adopt extreme policies such as the Green New Deal.
C. U.S. emissions have experienced the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. TRUE! Because of new innovation in the energy sector, the United States’s energy system has changed dramatically in recent decades. Innovations have made traditional energy sources cleaner and have led to greater use of renewable energy sources.
Increased use of fracking in the 2000s, which helped reach previously untapped reserves of natural gas, led to dramatic improvements in air quality as U.S. energy shifted away from coal.
Carbon capture and storage is another important innovation, as it can capture up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuels in commercial processes as well as vehicle emissions.
Renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, have also improved and can provide more power. Importantly, energy storage capacity is improving as well.
B. FALSE! Many climate advocates would argue that the only way to combat climate change is to adopt drastic climate policies. But Germany has already shown the dangers of this approach. While Germany has increased its share of renewables, with 48.7 percent of its power produced by renewables in 2020, this huge push for renewable energy has come with a cost, and has failed to reduce emissions to the same extent as U.S. policy.
If the U.S. were to adopt similar climate policies, we could expect similar results and have already seen some of the dangers in California. A much better approach would be to accept the current capabilities of renewable energy sources and work to improve them while continuing to clean up and rely upon our more traditional energy sources.
C. TRUE! The United States is leading the world in terms of environmental improvement and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Importantly, these successes have been driven by innovation, rather than by government regulation or fiat.
Thanks to a combination of renewable energy and cleaner traditional energy sources, emissions have decreased dramatically. U.S. emissions are now around their 1980 levels, when the electricity demand was one-third lower than today. This is the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.
This progress has been driven by decades of innovations to make myriad energy sources more effective and environmentally-friendly.
To learn more about America’s leadership in energy innovation, read the September Policy Focus HERE.