To spur decarbonization, public investments must go beyond government support of research and development and expand into the manufacturing and deployment of new technology. However, government support in helping to advance clean energy technology has been hampered by three key myths that permeate the discussion: (1) government should not pick “winners” by throwing funding behind key innovators; (2) public financing of a specific technology company could lead to excessive government support known as “rent-seeking”; and (3) publicly funded clean energy technology that fails is tantamount to policy failures.
CPI U.S. Director Bella Tonkonogy and analyst Matthew Solomon contributed to the commentary “Busting the myths around public investment in clean energy,” published in Nature Energy, that examines U.S. clean energy policy at a time when the Biden Administration’s climate-focused USD 500 billion Build Back Better plan stalled in Congress.
The commentary addresses some of the current criticism around public investment in support of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and outlines why an expanded range of investment approaches are needed now to avoid significantly more additional costs and other negative impacts in the years to come.
The Nature Energy commentary was co-authored by contributors from Yale School of the Environment and the Harvard Kennedy School.