Our Ideas

A Climate Solution Forged in the Center


The right wants to ignore climate change. The left wants to radically disrupt virtually every part of America’s economy and society to fight it. Neither approach makes sense.

The fight against climate change is a multi-decade challenge, which means it needs to be sustained across multiple presidencies and sessions of Congress. If recent history is any guide, that will include periods of unified Republican and Democratic control as well as divided government. That’s why any climate change solution—to have any chance to last—must be forged in the center.

In our new paper, The New Center suggests looking at our fossil fuel past—and the role government played in spurring the fracking revolution—as a guide to how we can forge a solution to a cleaner energy future.

Double Down on Federal R&D for Breakthrough Energy Technologies

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, energy investments have accounted for only once percent of the federal government’s R&D budget since the 1990s.

In 2018, the Department of Energy received $15 billion for energy R&D and related activities. These funds go toward advancing work on nuclear energy technologies, reactor concepts, renewable energy resources, carbon capture, advanced energy systems, and electricity efficiency. Of that $15 billion, ARPA-E (the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy)—which funds some of the most ambitious and cutting-edge energy research—only received $353 million.

Breakthrough energy technologies are sure to play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change, but they are currently being held back by cost, scalability, and performance hurdles. That’s common in the early stages of developing new technology.

Significant new federal R&D funding in these areas could accelerate the timeframe for innovators to clear these hurdles.

Today, The New Center releases “Energy and Climate: Double Down on Federal R&D for Breakthrough Energy Technologies,” which advocates for increased federal funding to support several energy technologies with the potential to increase our supply of energy and to combat climate change.

With increased funding, the Department of Energy would be able to accelerate and expand its investments in several breakthrough energy technologies such as:

  1. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage
  2. Advanced energy and battery storage
  3. Next generation nuclear reactors

Our new paper explores the various hurdles standing in the way of these and other next gen energy technologies and explains how targeted federal investments could help innovators clear these hurdles.

The full “Energy and Climate: Double Down on Federal R&D for Breakthrough Energy Technologies” paper is available for download here.