In a 1976 Foreign Affairs article, Amory Lovins offered a novel—and controversial—vision for America’s energy strategy. With U.S. security and energy independence threatened by oil market instability, Lovins urged policymakers to move away from fossil fuels and nuclear and towards efficiency and renewable energy. This “soft energy path,” he argued, offered a myriad of clear benefits, including environmental protection, lower costs, and greater consumer choice. Forty years later, shifting dynamics in the U.S. energy system and global urgency to address climate change make the debate over America’s energy choices all the more imperative.
On Wednesday, November 2, the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate hosted Rocky Mountain Institute President Amory Lovins for an address reflecting on his seminal article. Following his remarks, Lovins was joined by leading experts for a conversation on advancements in clean energy over the past four decades—and expectations for the next 40 years. Brookings Senior Fellow Charles Ebinger moderated the discussion and audience Q&A.
Former Brookings Expert
Cofounder and Chief Scientist - Rocky Mountain Institute
Adjunct Professor - Vermont Law School
Former Member - U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Former Chairman - Tennessee Valley Authority
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[On the role of the United States at the COP 24 U.N. climate negotiations] They don’t have credibility and leadership capacity and leverage, of course, the way they used to.
[On the role of the United States in the COP 24 U.N. climate negotiations] In Paris there were a lot of countries who took a deep breath and went beyond their comfort zone. [At COP24 at the] political level, there’s no U.S. leverage. The absence of the U.S. hurts for sure, but I think there are plenty of grownups who can get us there ... It would be a different deal if the U.S. were here.