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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

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.