Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change
Smart Climate Policy Secures a Cleaner, Healthier Future for All
Acting on climate is no longer just about defending against loss, it’s about scoring gains for our economy and communities. Many climate solutions offer the opportunity for more jobs, more consumer choice, lower costs, cleaner air and water, better soil quality and better health for everyone. We can meet the growing and changing needs of Americans while ensuring a prosperous, equitable, clean and secure energy future.
The Threat is Real, the Solutions are Now
The threat posed by the climate challenge is undeniable. A 2019 study by EPA scientists estimated that by 2090, carbon emissions in a 4.5°C warming scenario could cost the US economy $224 billion more annually, and result in 9,300 more heat-related deaths annually than if warming were limited to 2.5°C. The solutions to climate change—increasing energy efficiency, investing in renewable energy, appropriately pricing carbon, modernizing the grid, transitioning to electric vehicles and increasing the use of nature-based solutions—also offer more jobs, more consumer choice, lower costs, cleaner air and water, better soil quality and better health for everyone.
The U.S. economy is rapidly transforming. Smart policies can mobilize innovative technologies, business models, services and practices across the entire economy and the infrastructure that supports it while also creating new, well-paying jobs.
Cleaner energy sources, improved energy efficiency, and healthy natural and working lands are critical to modernizing and reinvigorating our grey and our green infrastructure. We must craft these policies with care to ensure all Americans benefit equitably, particularly frontline communities that have been overburdened and left out of the decision-making process.
- Employment in the solar industry is projected to double over the next decade, reaching 400,000 by 2030. To reach a 100 percent clean electricity goal by 2035, employment will need to exceed 900,000 workers.
- Over the past decade, the cost of solar modules has dropped 92 percent over the last decade, wind turbines are down nearly 50 percent, and lithium- ion battery prices have fallen 87 percent.
- Energy efficiency has helped decouple economic growth and energy use. Over the past 10 years, the U.S. gross domestic product reached record highs, yet electricity sales remained relatively flat.
- America’s largest automakers have made strong commitments to EV production. By 2025, 40 percent of General Motors’ U.S. models will be electric, with a commitment to produce EVs exclusively by 2035, while Ford is spending $11.5 billion on EV development by 2022.
Pricing Carbon to Reduce Emissions, Support Innovation
TNC supports policies that foster innovation and flexibility while setting ambitious, enforceable emissions reductions goals. An economy-wide price on carbon is among the most efficient ways to reduce the pollution causing climate change. Several carbon pricing bills have been introduced, including the bipartisan MARKET CHOICE Act.
These bills offer model design elements such as strong targets, ideas for revenue use, mitigation of disproportionate impacts to vulnerable communities and coordination with complementary state and federal policies. TNC is a member of the CEO Climate Dialogue, a coalition of leading companies and NGOs urging Congress to pass market-based climate change legislation.
Driving Clean Energy Innovation and Research
Leveraging the Department of Energy’s clean energy programs, such as ARPA-E that advances energy technologies not ready for private investment, would support wider deployment and scaling up of much needed technologies. Energy efficiency, carbon capture, utilization and storage, direct air capture, battery storage, grid modernization, advanced nuclear, and cleaner manufacturing and industrial processes are all critical to a net-zero economy.
Transforming the Power Sector
Integrating utility scale renewable generation, distributed generation, energy storage, vehicle electrification and microgrids can make the power system cleaner and more reliable, and give consumers more control over their energy bills, but requires modernized, resilient grid infrastructure. A federal clean energy standard designed effectively, can drive clean energy deployment and help meet clearly defined emissions targets. As renewable energy is added to the grid, smarter siting on public and private lands will ensure we meet added demand while protecting people and nature. Incentivizing low-impact development on degraded lands can create new economic opportunities.
Reducing Transportation Emissions
The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. To address this challenge, Congress should provide funding to accelerate electrification across the entire transportation sector, including investing in charging infrastructure and supporting the transition of vehicle fleets to zero-emission vehicles. TNC also supports performance standards and funding for state and local governments to reduce transportation emissions.
Clean Energy Tax Credits
TNC supports tax credits to drive deployment of essential technologies for modernizing and lowering emissions across our energy infrastructure, including carbon capture and storage, clean manufacturing processes, energy storage, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The added flexibility of a refundable tax credit or direct pay mechanism can accelerate commercialization of these much-needed technologies.
Advancing Natural Climate Solutions
Natural and working lands already reduce total U.S. emissions by around 12 percent annually, while keeping people and nature healthier. These reductions could be doubled with appropriate protection, reforestation and management practices. A number of proposed bills in Congress, and the recommendations of the newly formed Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance could accelerate the uptake of these solutions.