President Obama to double clean energy research funding

8 February 2016

NEW YORK: President Obama has announced plans to double US federal investment in clean energy research and development, as part of the budget to be presented to Congress on Tuesday.

In the US President’s weekly radio address on Saturday, he announced the funding would double from US$6.4 billion to US$12.8 billion over five years, starting in 2016 and rising 15% a year until 2021.

This commitment is part of the ‘Mission Innovation’ agreement reached by world leaders at COP21 in Paris in December, and is part of Obama’s broader commitment to tackling climate change.

President Obama said the agreement was “one of the most important partnerships ever assembled to accelerate this kind of clean energy innovation around the world. Investors and business leaders including Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, and Mark Zuckerberg joined us, pledging their own money to help advance new technologies to the market.”

Obama focused on innovation, job creation and the competitiveness of renewables throughout his speech, calling to invest in the future instead of subsidizing the past. He said that by 2020 America will see “new investments to help the private sector create more jobs faster, lower the cost of clean energy faster, and help clean, renewable power outcompete dirty fuels in every state.”

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director, The Climate Group, said of the announcement: "Research to develop and improve clean energy technologies is one of the most important investments we can make as a nation.  Not only is it essential to making cleaner, cheaper sources of energy available to more people around the world. But it is essential to growing advanced energy industries in the US, which have proven to create high-quality domestic jobs.  

“Compared to other sectors, we have underinvested in energy research for far too long, and we applaud the President's latest move to reverse that trend."

The President also stressed the need for cross-party support in the fight against climate change, outlining the many ways in which Republicans and Democrats alike have found employment in the renewables sector.  One example of this is the government’s Battery Test Center in Idaho, which is conducting ground-breaking research into electric cars.

It is expected the new commitment will send a strong message to the international community about the US’ intentions to honor its COP21 pledges. Indeed, Obama has made fighting climate change a priority for his second term in office – and has called the deal stuck at the COP21 a “turning point”. 

By Antonia Jennings

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