The Green New Deal is getting a lot more attention as we get into the 2020 Presidential election. The Green New Deal is a set of proposed economic stimulus programs in the United States with a goal of addressing climate change and economic inequality. The green part refers to renewable energy, energy efficiency, agriculture and related strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new deal part refers to social and economic reforms and public works projects, similar to what was undertaken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression (Civilian Conservation Corp, Civil Works Administration, Social Security Administration, etc.).
Author Thomas Freedman coined the Green New Deal term back in 2007. Taking up where he left off, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released a 14-page resolution for their version of the Green New Deal in February of 2019. Not surprisingly, there are strong political party line differences about the GND. There are even stronger generational differences about the GND. Without mincing words, Millenials see an existential threat to climate change — whereas most Boomers will be dead by then.
OK Boomer, so what should we do? For a youthful perspective, my guest on this week’s show is Kylie Tseng. Kylie is a graduate of NYU and is an activist for the Bay Area Sunrise Movement. Please listen to this week’s Energy Show as Kylie shares a Millennial’s perspective on the Green New Deal, and how everyone can encourage changes that will benefit both our climate and society.
From time immemorial, the fuels that have powered human development have been governed by economics. The cheaper and more available fuels were, the more they were used. And as humanity evolves, we use more and more fuel to meet our energy requirements. We have transitioned from wood to coal to oil to nuclear to gasoline to natural gas — and now to wind and solar, supplemented by batteries.
More recently in human history, subsidies have been used to encourage the development of new these fuel sources. Nuclear power was (and still is) subsidized by the U.S. government. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking), carbon capture and sequestration (so that we can continue to burn coal with lower emissions), hydrogen production and distribution, and synthetic fuels from biological sources have all been heavily subsidized. And there would not be a viable solar and battery storage industry without significant R&D from government sources.
When I reflect on these past subsidies — without exception — every single one mentioned above is still heavily subsidized by both federal and state governments. These subsidies do not only include direct R&D dollars, but also include incentives such as the solar investment tax credit, wind production tax credit, and oil/gas drilling depletion allowance.
But once a new fuel gains production scale and widespread adoption, favorable economics outweigh even large subsidies. We are in such a transition now as clean and cheap wind, solar and battery storage are replacing coal and natural gas fueled electricity To learn more about the economics of fossil fuels and the market forces that are transitioning our world to new energy sources, please tune in to this week’s Energy Show.