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The Next Front in the War Against Climate Change - By IDEA2024 Keynote Speaker, Brian Deese

By District Energy posted 13 days ago


The Atlantic


In August 2022, the U.S. passed the most ambitious climate legislation of any country, ever. As the director of President Joe Biden’s National Economic Council at the time, I helped design the law. Less than two years later, the Inflation Reduction Act has succeeded beyond my wildest hopes at unleashing demand for clean energy. So why do I find myself lying awake at night, worried that America could still fail to meet its climate goals?

Because even though unprecedented sums of money are flowing into clean energy, our current electricity system is failing to meet Americans’ demand for clean power. If we don’t fix it, the surge in investment will not deliver its full economic and planetary potential.

The Inflation Reduction Act was historic in scale, investing 10 times more than any prior climate legislation in the United States. Our theory was that we could use public incentives to encourage major private investment in areas where technological innovation could pay big dividends. This in turn would make zero-carbon technology cheaper, disperse it more widely, and drive down emissions faster. During two years of intense, often painful legislative negotiations, I wondered whether we would ever get to test this theory in practice. We ran endless models, but the models only get you so far. If we provided the public incentives, would the private investment really come?

We now can definitively say that the answer is yes.

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