Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Environmental activists demonstrate in favor of a Green New Deal outside of Senator Chuck Schumer's office, in New York City, on Dec. 3, 2018. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Following a year in which U.S. carbon emissions from energy rose, after years of declines, Green New Deal (GND) proponents are calling for a plan to convert 100% of the electricity supply to renewable energy, among other decarbonization initiatives.

The big picture: Although a massive undertaking, this energy transition is technologically feasible and economically beneficial. Some policies that would help kickstart the necessary emissions reductions are already being implemented in the U.S., Germany, China and other countries.

How it works: 100% clean energy would require strong federal, regional and state policy.

  • A federal renewable portfolio standard like California’s, which sets a specific procurement target for renewable-generated electricity, or a federal feed-in tariff like Germany’s or China’s, which pays a guaranteed price for energy produced by renewables, could both drive renewables investment.
  • A federal carbon price that increases over time could link with existing regional carbon markets in California and the Northeast to decarbonize the grid and generate clean-energy investment by auctioning emissions permits to polluters.
  • New federal and regional complementary power-sector policies, like performance-based regulation, to incentivize utilities to meet decarbonization goals; competitive power markets to reward the cheapest power sources; and better planning and incentives to increase grid flexibility through new transmission lines, energy storage, and better integration of customer electricity demand into grid operations.
  • Federal and state officials would need to empower utilities to retire fossil-fuel power plants with policies like the coal plant refinancing legislation proposed in Colorado.

Be smart: A Green New Deal would require upfront investment, but could pay dividends in energy savings and job growth.

  • Building new renewable plants is cheaper than operating existing coal ones in much of the country, and utilities are closing coal plants ahead of schedule to invest in wind, solar, and energy storage. This economic evolution makes replacing coal with clean energy more affordable than in the past.
  • More than 3 million Americans already work in clean energy, and solar installers and wind technicians are the two fastest-growing U.S. occupations. These jobs can’t be outsourced, are often accessible with only a high school or technical degree, and are often located in rural communities.

What to watch: California and Hawaii are already targeting 100% clean energy, and the governors of nine other states have pledged to do the same. These states will provide planning and implementation policy lessons, and can inform policy proposals from 2020 presidential contenders who endorse the proposal.

Robbie Orvis is the director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation.

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.