This report diagnoses the limits of the current clean energy innovation agenda and identifies sectors and technologies that are underrepresented in the RD&D portfolio. It develops a set of six “technology missions” to bridge these gaps, and offers the following recommendations to U.S. policymakers—although all of the missions and many of the recommendations are ones that should be embraced by all developed nations.
The world is not on track to achieve the deep reductions in carbon emissions necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. While the United States saw a modest decline in emissions in the 10-year period from 2007 to 2017—primarily due to the substitution of natural gas and renewables for coal in power generation—this trend may be coming to an end. The situation is even less encouraging at the global level, where carbon pollution has yet to peak, and emissions increased 2 percent last year. A substantial increase in and significant reorientation of federal energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) is needed to break out of this looming cul-de-sac.