U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the latest large cyber assault towards the U.S. and likewise different Biden administration objectives in Wilmington, Delaware, December 22, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, we’re on the cusp of a inexperienced industrial revolution. Now is the time for President-elect Joe Biden and his formidable staff of scientific, financial, and nationwide safety specialists to have interaction with the private sector to accelerate this historic transition to a low-carbon world.
With an bold $2 trillion plan that strives to handle the menace of local weather change extra comprehensively than that of some other administration, the Biden presidency might mark a turning level in federal authorities coverage and usher in a brand new period for clean energy.
And the newly introduced Biden environmental staff will discover a receptive enterprise group with which to cooperate. During the previous a number of years, efforts to handle local weather change in the US have been led not by the federal authorities and federal insurance policies—though many states and cities have continued to act on their very own—however by companies and monetary markets.
The private sector has turn into more and more targeted on sustainability and local weather danger, not solely on account of heightened consciousness of local weather change and accountability to stakeholders, but additionally on account of dramatic improvements which have considerably lowered the value of clean energy, catalyzing a shift in markets, creating monetary incentives, and motivating companies and institutional buyers to capitalize on these traits.
In reality, renewable energy is now cheaper than typical energy technology for over two-thirds of the planet. Just final 12 months, electrical energy technology from renewable sources surpassed coal in the US for the first time in the trendy period.
Meanwhile, an ever-growing variety of buyers are refusing to spend money on typical energy sources as the economics turn into much less engaging and are as a substitute specializing in clean applied sciences. The worth of private fairness investments in renewable energy initiatives has doubled in the previous 12 months, and in the previous 12 months and a half, enterprise funding for local weather tech firms jumped to $16.1 billion—from $418 million in 2013.
This has additionally been a watershed 12 months for company local weather bulletins with a rising variety of firms setting targets for zero internet emissions with clear timelines and actions. A slew of know-how firms introduced vital decarbonization objectives, together with Google, which pledged to offset all the carbon it has ever emitted and be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2030.
In the transportation sector, JetBlue turned the first US airline to obtain carbon neutrality for all home flights. In the telecommunications sector, AT&T has pledged internet carbon neutrality by 2035, launching a brand new local weather change analytical instrument to quantify local weather dangers all through the community. Notably, a number of main oil and gasoline firms additionally pledged this 12 months to considerably decarbonize their companies, together with BP, Shell, and simply final month, Equinor.
According to a latest report that analyzes progress below the Paris Agreement—and notes substantial private sector momentum—over 1,500 firms accounting for $12.5 trillion of mixed revenues have now set internet zero emissions targets.
Over the course of contemporary historical past, there have been quite a lot of inflection factors in the energy sector which have introduced transformative change: the Industrial Revolution in the 1750s and 1760s, which ushered in the rise of coal energy and the use of steam; the invention of the first widely-applicable incandescent lightbulb in the 1870s, which prolonged the workday and improved high quality of life; and the rise of oil, which overtook coal as the main world supply of energy in 1964 and spurred a brand new period of mass-production and world transportation.
Today, we’re at one other such tipping level as we proceed on the path in the direction of a clean-powered world. But we should decide up the tempo, appearing extra quickly and comprehensively to head off the existential dangers and prices of local weather change.
In 2020 the private sector has led the approach, however the federal authorities nonetheless has alternatives to re-engage. The incoming Biden administration ought to set up a Sustainable Recovery Task Force of enterprise and labor leaders that can present a private sector perspective to local weather and financial insurance policies, in addition to convene a Building Back Better summit inside its first 100 days, bringing collectively private sector representatives to advance an in depth local weather agenda.
We consider this second presents an historic alternative for our new nationwide management to be a part of firms and institutional buyers in daring local weather actions to expedite the world transition to a low-carbon financial system.
Laura Tyson, a former chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers throughout the Clinton administration, is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and a member of the Board of Advisors at Angeleno Group, LLC, a clean energy and local weather options funding agency. Daniel Weiss is co-founder and Managing Partner of Angeleno Group.