For the past few years, cap and trade legislation has seemed like the best--to some, the only--way to encourage a swift move to a lower-carbon economy, incentivizing renewable energies like solar power on the way. But cap and trade is facing such strong opposition that legislators have had to seek for alternative ways to address climate change.
At the climate talks in Copenhagen, the American solar industry stepped into center ring with SEIA's report on the effects faster deployment of solar energy could have on climate change. Seizing the Solar Solution: Combating Climate Change through Accelerated Deployment (PDF) makes the case for obtaining 15 percent of our total energy needs from solar by 2020. 12 percent from electric-producing solar (both photovoltaics and concentrated solar, which uses solar thermal technology), and three percent from solar hot water energy offsets. Doing so, says SEIA, could reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent while affording nearly 900,000 new jobs. (The report is a joint publication with the solar industry associations of many other countries, and there are sections as well for Canada, the Sunbelt countries, the EU, China, India, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.)
For anyone interested in climate change, energy and/or the American economy, this is shaping up to be quite a week. Above all else, keep an eye on Washington, DC, where a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee begins hearings on a draft bill that addresses climate-change legislation. Here's a prelude, courtesy of House Minority Leader John Boehner, talking Sunday on ABC's "This Week," with George Stephanopoulos :