Why a 100% clean economy is both achievable and necessary

Elizabeth Gore

Demand is building for climate change solutions — driven by stronger storms, raging wildfires, and a rising awareness that our future is at stake. Without action, we face ever-more devastating impacts on our economy, our health and the world we leave our children.

The good news is that we can protect ourselves from the worst impacts of the climate crisis by taking bold action. The United States can forge ahead toward a 100% clean economy — while reasserting our leadership on the global stage. It’s an ambitious goal, but the crisis we face demands it.

And we need to act now.

A 100% clean economy is necessary

If we’re going to get serious about beating climate change, we need to be 100% committed to a clean economy, and move toward one over-arching goal: The U.S. must stop adding climate pollution to the atmosphere by 2050. By midcentury, we must produce no more carbon emissions than we can remove. That’s consistent with what the science requires.

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Achieving that goal means putting a limit on climate pollution, and transforming everything from electricity generation, to transportation, to manufacturing. We need dramatic shifts toward clean energy in all sectors of the economy.

And while a 100% clean economy should supercharge deployment of zero-carbon energy sources, science tells us we need to do more: We need to find ways to take climate pollution out of the air at scale.

That means everything from protecting forests and smart farming practices to investing in new ways to capture and store carbon.

A 100% clean economy is a strong economy

More than 4 million Americans now work in wind, solar, energy efficiency and other clean energy jobs. That number will increase with new focus and new incentives. Robust private and public investment can help to spur new technologies that grow the economy while cutting dangerous pollution.

A 100% clean economy will be driven by American ingenuity — and built by American workers. We can leverage the power of our whole economy to solve the climate problem, engaging every sector of our economy and allowing American businesses and entrepreneurs the flexibility to find the most effective ways to get to 100% clean.

America can be a global leader again

A commitment to 100% clean at home will also ensure that American-made solutions are exported to the rest of the world. American inventiveness has made us a technological leader in the past — we are the country that has, against all odds, put humans on the moon, cured diseases, and ushered in the digital age. That same tenacity can propel us to the 100% clean economy that we need.

Our commitment to this bold national goal will allow us to become a superpower in clean energy, too. We need to join this global race, and develop the solutions that will put us ahead of our competitors in the area of innovation and invention. 

Support for technology is vital

Breakthrough technologies, from next-generation energy storage to extended-range electric vehicles and cutting edge approaches to capturing and storing carbon, can play an essential role in our response to climate change.

We have an impressive track record of success: Previous investments in and incentives for renewable power are paying off and the cost of existing clean energy sources has plummeted. Solar energy prices have dropped nearly 90% in the last decade and wind power is almost 70% cheaper.

There is bipartisan support in Congress for new investments in clean energy; we need to make those investments now so that we can all reap the benefits down the road. A 100% clean energy economy will inspire development and adoption of the technologies that will get us to net zero.

100% clean and 100% achievable 

By acting now, we can reach the ambitious goal of 100% clean in just a few decades.

With robust investments, new technologies, and the political will to usher in this transition, we can achieve a 100% clean economy that benefits all Americans. 

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