Stakes are high for a national clean energy policy in the U.S.
Clean energy was a major theme of President Obama’s State of the Union address. In his speech the President proposed a clean energy goal of 80 percent of electricity in the U.S. by 2035. But while Republicans talk about simply drilling for more oil, China’s national clean energy policy has been attracting twice the world’s investment in clean energy as patchwork U.S. efforts.
A comprehensive clean energy policy
The clean energy position outlined in the State of the Union address included solar and wind power, as well as clean coal and natural gas. The President made it clear that oil should not a part of any national clean energy policy. In fact, in the current political environment that holds federal spending in contempt, Obama proposed paying for government investment in clean energy by cutting off billions of dollars in oil company subsidies. According to the Center for American Progress, cutting off oil company subsidies would save the federal government $45 billion over 10 years. Exxon alone exceeded that figure in 2009 profits.
Global investment in clean energy
Investment in clean energy worldwide has grown 230 percent since 2005, according to the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program. Global investment in clean energy totaled $162 billion in 2009. China attracted $34.6 billion of that money. The U.S. attracted $18.6 billion. When the numbers come in for 2010, analysts expect worldwide investment in clean energy will have grown 25 percent to $200 billion. China’s percentage of the pie is also expected to increase. Countries like China and India have taken the lead in clean energy with national policies designed to reduce carbon emissions and provide clean energy incentives for businesses.
The payoff for a national clean energy policy
The President’s call for a national clean energy policy that includes nuclear power, clean coal and natural gas was a bipartisan gesture made to garner enough votes in Congress to move forward. Republicans dismissed Obama’s clean energy theme and chose to criticize him for the 2010 drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. While the GOP fights to block a national clean energy policy on behalf of oil companies, 30 states currently require utilities to increase the power purchased from clean energy sources. Experts at the Pew group said a national standard would expand the clean energy market, level the playing field and make clean energy in the U.S. a more reliable long-term investment.