Calls for a sweeping “Green New Deal,” costing a mere $93 trillion, naturally give fiscally responsible sorts the willies and should be a sobering prospect to anyone who happens to remember that we are stone cold broke. However, how about a Green “Real Deal,” involving a more limited set of public-private works, undertaken with an eye to financial and economic sustainability as well as environmental concerns? That’s the proposal from Ernest J. Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, writing in Science magazine, with an op-ed that emphasizes the possibilities for political cooperation around technocratic goals.
- In a nutshell: “Now is the time to translate these aspirations into action within the constraints of technical, cost, and social realities. This is optimization, not compromise—call it a Green Real Deal.”
- According to Moniz the Green Real Deal involves five key requirements, including that it be based on science; it has to be pragmatic, in order to enable coalition building; it has to address all parts of the economy, including the most difficult to decarbonize, such as transportation; it should respect local conditions because situations vary widely; and it should avoid “stranded assets” in the form of workers out of jobs.
- Technology must play a major part in any Green Real Deal, including carbon removal, storage, and industrial and commercial use of CO2, as well as efficiency gains through digital intelligence and IT integration with the power grid.
- Moniz also emphasizes the importance of lowering the cost of clean energy technologies to make them more affordable to underserved communities, many of which are the hardest hit by climate change.
- And there’s the political piece. Moniz writes: “Advancing an innovation initiative through Congress now will be an important step toward a Green Real Deal and perhaps awaken the kind of climate change accountability needed more broadly in 2020.”