Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.” Can you identify which of the following are TRUE about renewable energy sources?
A.The U.S. is a leader in developing clean energy technology.
B. Renewable or “green” energy sources, such as wind, solar and battery power, contribute to carbon emissions.
C. The only way to reach net zero emissions is by mandating 100% “green” or “renewable” energy sources.
A. TRUE! The U.S. consistently outpaced other countries in our carbon reduction efforts while also balancing the practical realities of our technological capabilities. The U.S. is the only highly-populated country to meet the World Health Organization’s most stringent air quality standards. U.S. energy-related emissions have fallen by 14 percent since 2005, while the rest of the world has increased their emissions by 20 percent. Cleaning up reliable energy sources, coupled with “green” and renewable energy technologies, will help the U.S. to continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and lead the world in combating climate change.
B. TRUE! Wind and solar technologies require a range of mining, manufacturing, production, transmission and disposal activities, resulting in carbon emissions. While these energy sources are helping us to reduce carbon emissions, they are not as “green” as some might think. For example, President Biden wants about half of all U.S. cars to be electric just nine years from now. But most of those car batteries are mined and shipped from countries such as China and Chile, which have lower environmental standards than our own. Also, adding billions of cars to our electric grids will result in a greater demand from our energy grid, requiring an increase in consumption of traditional, more reliable energy sources such as nuclear power and natural gas. (Pending some great advancement, of course!)
C. LIE! While many assume that reducing carbon emissions must be done via renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, low-carbon, “clean” energy sources such as nuclear power and carbon capture are also essential to reducing our carbon emissions. While these energy sources aren’t “green” or “renewable,” they are clean, reliable, and essential to the fight against climate change.
Bottom Line: We have many tools at our disposal to fight climate change. We must use the different technologies at hand while continuing to support further innovation in the energy sector. To read more about different energy sources and technology, read our policy focus: Innovating Our Way To A Cleaner Environment.