U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Science (9 January 2017), doi 10.1126/science.aam6284


US government work


The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to human activity is increasing global av-erage surface air temperatures, disrupting weather patterns, and acidifying the ocean (1). Left unchecked, the continued growth of GHG emissions could cause global average tem-peratures to increase by another 4°C or more by 2100 and by 1.5 to 2 times as much in many midcontinent and far northern locations (1). Although our understanding of the impacts of climate change is increasingly and disturbingly clear, there is still debate about the proper course for U.S. policy—a debate that is very much on display during the current presidential transition. But putting near-term poli-tics aside, the mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean-energy econ-omy that have emerged during my presidency will continue and that the economic opportunity for our country to har-ness that trend will only grow. This Policy Forum will focus on the four reasons I believe the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.