In this testimony, Jennifer Morgan, Director of WRI's Climate and Energy program, describes the energy risks and opportunities that climate change presents; the role that clean energy can play in the U.S. energy mix; and actions Congress can take to mitigate global warming's threats.

Executive Summary

Our energy choices need to factor in both opportunities and risks. This testimony gives particular attention to why we must consider the risk of climate change, both on our resources being developed and utilized today and on our choices for development into the future. It concludes with the following recommendations:

  1. Congress should request that the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee review the current authorities of federal agencies and national laboratories, and recommend how consideration of risks associated with climate change can be more directly incorporated into decision-making.

  2. Congress should support efforts to better assess the impacts of climate change on America’s energy infrastructure and incorporate this into planning and investment decisions.

  3. Congress should keep in mind four important criteria in considering policies to drive more effective clean energy growth and competitiveness: any energy policy should be comprehensive, long-term, targeted, and inclusive.

  4. In capturing energy efficiency across the economy, Congress can play a constructive role in two key areas:

  • Informed consumer choice: supporting and expanding programs to help ensure product labeling is accurate and publicly reported in a timely manner, to encourage energy-wise investment decisions throughout the U.S. economy.

  • Efficiency standards: supporting and extending the ability of federal agencies to develop and update energy efficiency standards for vehicles, appliances, and other energy-consuming equipment that is sold into U.S. commerce.

  1. Congress must work toward reaching bipartisan agreement on national energy policies that encourage more efficient energy consumption, increase the diversity of domestic energy production, maximize deployment of low-carbon energy technologies, and minimize environmental impacts throughout our energy systems. In the near-term, it is also critical for Congress to provide funding and incentives for low-carbon and clean energy technologies.