Technological advances in the electric power, transportation, industrial, and agricultural sectors can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New techniques and processes, new products, and product improvements can help reduce the cost of lower-carbon and zero-emission solutions, leading to greater deployment and lower emissions in the United States and globally.
Businesses constantly innovate, responding to market needs and at times creating new markets.
Government can spur business innovation in two key ways:
- Government funding of basic science has a long history in leading to the development of commercially available technologies.
- Government policy can spur businesses to develop solutions to challenges like climate change.
Carbon pricing policies can spur technological advancements broadly, while command-and-control tax credits target specific technologies. Technological advances have already led to economywide emissions reductions.
Advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have made it easier and cheaper to obtain natural gas. Increased use of natural gas, which emits half as much carbon dioxide and less particulate matter than coal, has helped reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to mid-1990 levels.
Technology improvements in wind and solar power, driven by government incentives in the United States and abroad, have created a global industry that produces continually lower-cost turbines and panels, which increasingly are economic to implement in their own right.
Additionally, in response to federal regulations, vehicles have become more efficient and emit less pollution.