This roadmap creates a three-part framework for thinking about the transition to a secure, low-carbon economy.
It recommends that the administration and Congress should:
Establish a vision for the future. Articulate a long-term vision for addressing energy security and climate change
against which all policies will be measured.
Integrate energy security and climate change priorities into all aspects of domestic and international policymaking.
Put the country’s energy system on the right path. “Reset the system” by updating policies and incentives to
promote secure, low-carbon technologies and practices.
Establish a price on carbon throughout the U.S. economy.
Make and implement a public financial commitment to address energy security and climate change, including
devoting resources to improved infrastructure, energy efficiency, and clean-energy jobs.
Reform incentives to promote low-carbon technologies and remove barriers to their adoption.
Engage constructively in an effective international response to climate change and energy security concerns.
Invest in the infrastructure and technology necessary to transform the transportation system while improving
Manage the transition. Continue to meet and manage U.S. energy demand while addressing the tradeoffs that
occur during the transition to a new energy system.
Promote energy efficiency and other measures that contribute to both energy security and climate goals.
Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from technologies that contribute to energy security (coal and biofuels)
and make low-carbon technologies (nuclear power and some renewables) more secure.
Support domestic conventional oil production during the transition to lower-carbon fuels.
Develop a natural gas strategy to help meet short-term demand and ensure the availability of alternatives in
the longer term.
At first glance, improving energy security and
addressing climate change may seem irreconcilable
goals: achieve an adequate, reliable, and affordable
energy supply for the United States, while at the same
time reducing emissions of dangerous global warming gases
into the atmosphere. After all, most of the world’s energy
comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and
natural gas – which are also major sources of greenhouse
gases. Without scalable low-carbon replacements for these
fuels, actions to reduce emissions could destabilize the
current energy system. On the other hand, continued
dependence on these fuels will jeopardize our climate.
The hard truth is that the United States---and the world---must now figure out how to achieve energy security and
protect Earth’s climate.
There is abundant evidence that the current energy
system is unsustainable. Prices are volatile, supplies tight,
and security threats---from supply disruptions to
geopolitical tension---have become commonplace.
The expected environmental and
social costs of climate change---sea-level
rise, water scarcity, reduced food
supplies, and damaged ecosystems---are rising. At the same time, the
country is facing an economic crisis that strains public and
private budgets, but also raises opportunities to stimulate the
economy while building a cleaner and more reliable
energy infrastructure in the process.
Solutions to these problems are not always clear. While
some strategies – such as energy efficiency measures – benefit
climate change and energy security goals, other possible solutions
for improving energy security – such as relying more on
liquid fuels produced from domestic coal – could significantly
worsen climate and other environmental problems. Similarly,
some possible climate solutions – such as relying more on the
sun or wind to make electricity – could reduce reliable and
affordable energy supplies in the short term.
This “roadmap” presents the results of a year-long
effort by the Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS, an international policy and security-oriented think
tank) and the World Resources Institute (WRI, an environmental
policy think tank) to identify a set of policies to
address energy security and climate change simultaneously.
This document presents the results of a difficult process
to reconcile the priorities of two sometimes conflicting
constituencies. The resulting recommendations are
designed to be implemented as a package. Policymakers
must not simply pick the recommendations they favor or
that are most politically palatable. The balanced approach
recommended in this brief would greatly increase the
United States’ chances of meeting both its energy security
and climate goals.
It won’t be easy. Shifting the United States to a secure,
low-carbon economy will take decades. The costs will be
high, but they will be even higher if immediate action is
not taken. The United States has ample natural, human,
and technological resources, and if policymakers get started
promptly and make smart decisions, the benefits of this transformation
can be great: economic opportunity, a healthier
planet, and a more secure future for the United States.