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.