Anna Goldstein, a senior research fellow in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, commented in an article by David Roberts on Vox based on the theme that getting to net-zero carbon emissions will require rapid, radical innovation.
From an engineering perspective, according to the Vox article, the central question is whether the tools available are up to the task required of them. As the Vox story explained, “The International Energy Agency has recently set out to answer that question, under the rubric of its Energy Technology Perspectives program, which this month issued its latest Clean Energy Innovation report.”
Roberts noted that “The task [of meeting net-zero goals] may appear particularly challenging from the perspective of dysfunctional U.S. politics; there are at least a few successes to cite.”
As an example of one successful effort in this area, Goldstein pointed to& ARPA-E, the advanced energy research agency created under President Obama. Goldstein explained that “There was an idea for innovation policy, it got put into practice, and now we’re seeing results from it, and people on both sides of the aisle are saying, ‘This is great, let’s scale it up even further.’ That’s promising.”
Goldstein, who directs the new Energy Transition Initiative at UMass Amherst, also noted good examples of long-term thinking and planning exhibited by the U.S. Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization and the Quadrennial Energy Review.
According to Goldstein in her Vox comments about the current political dysfunction in Washington, “We can pretend we all just blacked out for four years and then build on the successes of the Obama administration.” (August 2020)