To the editor:
Where will new jobs and economic growth come from in the next few decades? What should our state and nation be focusing now to meet future opportunities?
Hint: Energy makes up 8% of global GDP, the world has committed to massive carbon emission reductions from fossil fuels (last year, the world added more solar capacity than coal, gas and nuclear plants combined), and it takes manufacturing and technical ability to be a clean-energy solutions provider.
The coming changes in energy will determine the next Saudi Arabia, Exxon and Koch billionaires. Those who get it right early will be rewarded for decades to come. Winning this race will require investment and innovation in renewable energy, energy efficiency and electrification. Which country is best positioned to lead the global clean-energy transformation?
The U.S. and China are the main contenders. The U.S. should have an edge with our free market system, but when pollution is free, markets make bad decisions due to inaccurate price signals. Our energy market is broken, so our powerful economy is not delivering forward-looking solutions efficiently. China’s leaders made a conscious decision to lead in renewable energy. The results of a failed market versus explicit top-down control are clear. According to a Bloomberg report for the U.N., China spent 45% of all that the world spent on renewable energy research, manufacturing and deployment in 2017.
Investment in renewable energy in the U.S. was one-third that of China, and was down 6% from 2016.
Across the U.S., bad energy decisions are made every day due to the failure of our energy market to price in climate pollution. In New Hampshire, our biggest energy providers are pushing projects like the $400 million Granite Bridge fracked gas pipeline rather than offshore wind.
Our car makers advertise ever-bigger SUVs and offer many more gas models than electrics. In comparison, China’s Volvo decided 2019 will be the last year they will produce new gas- or diesel-only powered vehicles, and Germany’s Volkswagen is going all electric. England, France and the Netherlands have outlawed selling new gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2040. We are on the wrong path.
Why is that? When pollution is free, we lose. The powerful last-century energy companies have a lot of influence. Fossil fuels can’t compete on a level playing field with clean energy, but when pollution is free, fossil fuels seem cheap.
We need to help Congress level the playing field. They can do so by passing the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (H.R. 763). This will trigger massive private investments and innovation in this century’s energy solutions, and we’ll benefit from reduced pollution and the growth of jobs and economy.
Tell Congress you want to put a price on climate pollution by charging fossil fuel companies a fee and rebating all the money collected to all households equally each month. This is a bipartisan, revenue-neutral solution that does not grow government.