I’m excited to announce an important new report that the Risky Business Project released today- From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy. This report finds that transitioning to a clean energy economy that reduces climate risk is technically and economically achievable using commercial or near-commercial technology. It will create significant business opportunities for those willing to lead.
Risky Business Project Co-Chairs Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, Jr., and Thomas Steyer tasked the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Evolved Energy Research (EER) with this independent assessment of the economic opportunities in a transition to a clean energy economy in the United States. I served as the lead author of the report for the WRI team and worked with a stellar cast of top-notch researchers, writers, and editors over the past 18 months to develop the report and its detailed Appendices. Our work builds on previous research by my friend and colleague Jim Williams at the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project and drew upon excellent feedback from many experts.
You can explore the executive summary, interactive features, and the full report here. Key findings of the report are that:
- It is both technologically and economically feasible to achieve an 80% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- The total additional capital investment required to achieve a clean energy economy in 2050 would average about $320 billion per year, which is comparable to our total annual capital investment computers and software.
- Despite the additional capital investment, U.S. Businesses and consumers would save an average of $366 billion per year on fossil fuel costs over the same period.
- Three key ‘pillars’ are crucial to the transition: (1) mass electrification of the economy, (2) a switch to low-carbon fuel sources, and (3) energy efficiency.
- Electricity generation would need to double between 2015-2050 to meet increased demand from electrification of the economy (especially transportation). So it is critical that the new generation is from clean fuels.
- There are multiple technological pathways that can achieve a clean energy economy: the report analyzes four different pathways that emphasize different mixes of renewables, carbon capture and sequestration, or nuclear generation as well as a balanced portfolio.
- America will gain over 1 million extra jobs by 2030 compared to the High-Carbon Reference Case, but some regions and sectors would lose more jobs in a clean energy future (and the impact on those workers and regions needs to be addressed). Employment will rise in utilities, construction, and manufacturing. We expect to see 800,000 new construction jobs by 2050.
- There are some real implementation challenges, but they can be overcome with good policy and strategic investment. The key is that we need to begin the transition now.
The Risky Business co-chairs (Bloomberg, Paulson, and Steyer) were joined by support from the former CEOs of Xerox, Cargill, Walmart, and Caterpillar as well as former Secretaries of State, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Health and Human Services. From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy is a project with broad bipartisan support.
I am very proud to have been involved in this effort. I hope you will check it out and explore it.