Will Clean Tech Take Our Economy to the Cleaners?
In an Aspen Ideas Festival session titled “Will Clean Tech Take Our Economy to the Cleaners,” Dr. Kristina Johnson, former under secretary of energy at the US Department of Energy and CEO of Enduring Energy debated with Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment, the benefits and costs of clean tech.
Johnson laid out five proposed actions to take to achieve an ambitious goal of 83% reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2050 and 80% clean electricity by 2035:
- Focus on energy conservation first.
- Decarbonize the electric sector.
- Electrify the transportation sector.
- Develop advanced bio-fuels that can be used for work trucks and planes.
- Modernize the grid for energy efficiency
Johnson says there needs to be more public and private focus on research in battery technology and research in converting to bio-fuels. She also says the citing and permitting process for renewable energy sources like wind and solar and hydro power need to be streamlined; that the US needs to continue a loan guarantee program for nuclear; revitalize our infrastructure; and she called for more regulation.
The cost of not pursuing such a plan according to Johnson?
“The health-related costs of CO2 in the atmosphere is estimated to be to a third of a trillion to a half trillion dollars,” she says, citing research by Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
“The US GDP is about $15 trillion. We propose an investment in this energy plan to be about $1.5 trillion dollars ($70 billion a year for 15 years of public and private money). That would return 2.5 trillion to the US economy.”
Bryce responded to the proposal, saying “I am skeptical that we can reach an 83% reduction by 2050 – it’s sheer fantasy.”
What do you think?