Building a Clean Energy Economy

About the Decarb America Research Initiative

The Decarb America Research Initiative analyzes policy and technology pathways for the United States to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Our work aims to advance our understanding of the tradeoffs in different strategies for achieving net-zero and to identify the national, regional, and state-level economic opportunities that a new clean energy economy will generate. Our analytical results are intended to inform policymakers and other key decision makers as they consider options for addressing climate change and modernizing America’s energy systems.

In support of this work, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Clean Air Task Force, and Third Way commissioned Evolved Energy Research to independently conduct an energy systems analysis designed to explore five main research topics described below. Evolved Energy’s uniquely comprehensive modeling platform can capture and integrate the impacts of hundreds of technologies across multiple sectors, including transportation, electricity, industry, buildings, and carbon management. With 16 separate U.S. geographic zones, the model offers the spatial detail needed to analyze region-specific challenges and opportunities, as well as the temporal detail needed to reliably represent low-carbon electricity systems. For more details about the model, see Methodology

For our economics and jobs analyses, we commissioned Industrial Economics, Inc. and Inforum at the University of Maryland. Inforum’s dynamic macroeconomic models use a unique “bottom-up” approach based on a detailed representation of the wide variety of relationships between different industries in the U.S. economy.

Decarb America focuses on the five main topics below that summarize the research questions explored in our modeling. Findings from our work in each of these areas, including new reports and figures, will be posted on the website as they become available, so please visit again for updates.

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1) Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions

How do different pathways to net-zero compare? How far will a package of sector-specific decarbonization policies reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What additional strategies might be needed to achieve net-zero by 2050? What do pathways to net-zero look like under various technology and deployment constraints?
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2) Energy Infrastructure Needs for a Net-Zero Economy

What types of clean energy infrastructure are we likely to build, and where, to achieve net-zero by 2050? How will this infrastructure be different from today’s energy systems? How much clean energy infrastructure needs to be deployed, and how quickly? What are the challenges of achieving rapid deployment on a large scale?
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3) Power Sector Deep Dive

What does the power sector look like in a net-zero economy? How can we design a market-based Clean Energy Standard (CES) to rapidly deploy clean energy, reduce emissions, minimize cost, and encourage innovation? What are the impacts and tradeoffs of different key design choices for a national CES?
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4) Clean Energy Innovation Breakthroughs

How might technology breakthroughs affect the speed and cost of reaching net-zero emissions?
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5) Impacts on Jobs and the Economy

How will the transition to net-zero emissions affect national and state-level employment and GDP? What are the expected costs and where will they hit the hardest? How many jobs might specific clean energy policies create, directly and indirectly?