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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The word "innovation" is having a Beltway moment, so it's worth reading two new substantive reports.

What's new: The reports offer a roadmap for expanding federal initiatives for developing improved and next-wave zero-carbon energy sources and getting them into commercial deployment.

Why it matters: The reports arrive on the heels of major UN and U.S. government projections about the highly damaging consequences of global warming if worldwide emissions are not cut extremely sharply in the next couple decades.

Buzz: "Innovation" is getting tossed around as Republicans are being asked to respond to the big federal climate report released on Black Friday. As my former colleagues at E&E News reported on Wednesday...

  • "Several ... GOP lawmakers have thrown around the term 'innovation' or stressed technological advancement in public comments about climate change in the past few days, including Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida."

So the reports are well-timed in the event policymakers actually want ideas for breathing life into the term at a time when other climate policy avenues — like carbon taxes and regulations — are moribund among Republicans.

The big picture: Both reports call for a more robust federal role. The AEIC report argues that U.S. R&D is too low.

  • The AEIC has long made the case that more aggressive federally backed research, development and deployment programs would boost U.S. economic competitiveness.
  • "They're pushing for a $16 billion annual investment, including boosting money for the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to $1 billion, well more than twice current levels, and for beefing up DOE's network of "Energy Innovation Hubs."

The ITIF report, meanwhile, urges policymakers to bolster various areas that it calls underrepresented in the federal R&D and deployment portfolio.

  • That includes carbon removal technologies, long-term grid storage, and solutions for wringing emissions out of sectors that are tricky to decarbonize, such as shipping, and cement and steel production.

Reality check: There's some GOP appetite on Capitol Hill for expanding Energy Department clean energy programs, and Congress has batted aside White House requests for deep cuts.

  • But getting Republican buy-in for a major scale-up is a very different animal.

What's next: Members of the AEIC will be holding private meetings with lawmakers from both parties early next year, a representative of the group tells Axios.

Go deeper: 5 transformative energy technologies to watch

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
16 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Yellen wants business to help foot infrastructure bill

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is heading into the belly of the beast Tuesday and asking the business community to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: By trying to persuade a skeptical and targeted audience, Yellen is signaling the president’s commitment to raising corporate taxes to pay for his plan. Republican senators, critical to a potential bipartisan deal, oppose any corporate tax increase.