Announcing: "Mission Innovation"

President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House
President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today in Paris, President Obama and French President Hollande, along with a wide range of other top global leaders, will announce “Mission Innovation,” an initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation to address global climate change, provide affordable clean energy to consumers, including in the developing world, and create additional commercial opportunities in clean energy. 

Through the initiative, 20 countries are committing to double their respective clean energy research and development (R&D) investment over five years. These countries include the top five most populous nations – China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil. They stretch across five continents. And when you add all partner countries together, they represent 75 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions from electricity, and more than 80 percent of the world’s clean energy R&D investment.

They also represent the myriad ways we create and use energy. The Mission Innovation members include some of the largest oil and gas producers – the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Norway and Indonesia – as well as many with high penetration of renewables in their power sectors, such as Canada, Norway, Denmark, Brazil and Chile.

We know that large scale penetration of clean energy technologies will require that smart investment by governments is followed by smart private-sector investments. That is why Mission Innovation is complemented by a separate private sector-led effort that has pledged to invest extraordinary levels of private capital in clean energy, focusing on early-stage innovations. This parallel initiative – spearheaded by Bill Gates – includes a coalition of over 28 significant private capital investors from 10 countries, and will be called Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Members of these initiatives recognize a crucial reality: we need to accelerate the development of clean energy solutions to match the urgency of tackling climate change. We need an all-in, all-sector approach to transform global energy markets to address this challenge, and new technologies will play a critical role in this transformation.

Our climate imperatives, coupled with the world’s need for energy and electricity, mean that we don’t have the luxury of decades to develop and deploy new technologies.

Mission Innovation responds to the urgency of climate change, the opportunity of technological innovation, and the international imperative to tackle this problem in a global way. And we’re stepping up our game through the initiatives announced today.

Today’s announcements build on a sustained commitment from the President to unlock clean energy R&D funding and call on the private sector to do its part.  Day-in and day-out, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under the leadership of Secretary Ernest Moniz, is centrally focused on clean energy innovation.  In October, Secretary of State John Kerry brought investors together at a Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum to develop better pathways to sustainable development in new and emerging markets, including finding new ways to accelerate collaboration across borders and sectors. Earlier this summer, Vice President Biden announced $4 billion in independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and others to fund innovative solutions to help fight climate change, including technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution. The Administration has also taken a series of executive actions that will further encourage private-sector investment in clean energy innovation, including:

  • Launching a new Clean Energy Investment Center at the DOE to make information about energy and climate programs at the Department and other government agencies accessible and more understandable to the public, including to mission-driven investors;
  • Facilitating investments by charitable foundations, in clean energy technologies and other potentially mission-aligned sectors, through new Treasury Department guidance on impact investing;
  • Improving financing options from the U.S. Small Business Administration for private investment funds seeking long-term capital, including early-stage investors in capital-intensive clean energy technologies; and
  • Clarifying when pension funds may choose economically targeted investments, with new guidance from the Department of Labor regarding consideration of environmental, social, and governance factors for retirement plan investing.

We have already made incredible strides in driving down the costs of key clean energy options. The cost of LED lights has dropped 90 percent since 2008, large-scale solar by 60 percent, and wind and battery prices declined by over 40 percent. And with decreasing costs has come greater deployment. Since 2008, we’ve gone from 400,000 LED lightbulbs to more than 78 million installed, wind energy production has tripled, and solar has increased more than twenty-fold.

But we know we must continue to do more. Accelerating clean energy innovation is essential to achieving the goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to below 2˚C and building on the individual climate policies now put forward by more than 180 countries as part of the Paris Climate Conference process. The influx of private and public capital from these two initiatives will make a real difference in meeting this challenge.

Paul Bodnar is the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, National Security Council. Dave Turk is Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Climate and Technology at the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Thousands of Graves at Arlington Cemetery May Forgo Wreaths Due to Lack of Funding

Winter Weather
Wreaths Across America, a non-profit group that for the last 23 years has been placing wreaths on the graves of our nation’s fallen warriors without any government assistance, is thousands short of its goal of placing one commemorative garland at each of the nearly 230,000 headstones at the Arlington National Cemetery, due to a lack of funding this holiday season.
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CNN’s Stelter, Trump Spokeswoman Battle on 9/11 Claims — ‘Your Candidate Is Grossly Exaggerating’

Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter battled with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Katrina Pierson over Trump’s claims he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the Twin Towers coming down on 9/11. Pierson said, “The question is did he or did he not see it. They’re trying to people they didn’t see what they saw or hear what they heard. That’s what’s being discussed today. Did it happen? So many people have said yes. The question is why is the media going out of its way at this point to deny that there are radical American Muslims in this country today. Because obviously, they have shifted over to this false attack on the reporter.” She continued, “Before this actually happened, the Washington Post article, the whole fact checking incident, everyone was saying it did not happen. This never happened Trump is lying. When in fact these other articles, including an AP article came out and said otherwise. So many people in New Jersey came to his defense.” Host Stelter said, “At very best your candidate is grossly exaggerating. It would have been an international news story. We’d be playing the video now. Can we all
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Texas 7th-Grader Who Reported Teacher Instructed God is a Myth Calls School Board ‘Liars,’ Demands Apology

empty classroom AP
A 12-year-old seventh grade student in Katy, Texas who reported in October that her teacher instructed her class that God is a myth challenged her school board again by demanding an apology and referring to its members as “liars.” Jordan Wooley, a straight-A student at West Memorial Junior High reported her reading teacher instructed her class that God is a “myth” and that any student who says God is a “fact” or an “opinion” is wrong. The student said she and her classmates were told that answers on a quiz that did not identify God as a “myth” would be marked as a failure. The school district denied the incident happened, claiming no other students verified Jordan’s story. The district later issued an apology of sorts, though its officials disputed the purpose of the activity, referring to it as “an exercise to encourage critical thinking skills and dialogue.” “If I had any reason to believe, or evidence to support, that a teacher did what has been alleged, I would stand with Jordan as well,” said Superintendent Alton Frailey at a news conference. “But the assertions are just not true.” Fox26 in Houston reports the school’s principal, however, had already found
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Dem Rep on Mass Shootings: We Have To Do Something Other Than a ‘Pantomime of Condolence’

Sunday on ABC’s  ‘This Week,”  while discussing Friday’s shooting killing three people in Colorado Springs, CO, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) voiced frustration over the inaction in the wake of shooting tragedies and argued expressing condolences wasn’t enough. Schiff said, “Well, I think this is a big issue that there’s too ready access of people who are seriously mentally ill to firearms. But Martha, nothing we have done has worked because essentially we have done nothing. The background checks are not universal, so even if people who are mentally ill would be barred if they buy it off the back of a truck or they buy it at a gun show, it’s not going to stop them from getting a weapon. If they can still have access to very powerful weapons with extended ammunition clips, they’re still going to be able to kill a lot of people. We have to do something other than this routine now pantomime of condolence every time we have a mass shooting. That is simply not enough. And it’s just unendurable.” Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
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