Page 112 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
ing legal intervention tools to support deep decarboniza-
tion. ese challenges include cost and fea sibility issues,
timing issues, fairness, coordination problems, and the
need for reexivity and adaptiveness. W hile none of these
challenges are insurmountable, they are all dicult, and
must be taken into account in plotting a legal interven-
tion strategy for deep decarboniz ation. Section VI pro-
vides some conclu sions and recommendation s, supporting
a carbon pricing mechanism such as a carbon tax sup-
plemented with direct innovation support such as R&D
funding, incentives, and subsidies.
II. Technological Innovation Is Essential
for Deep Decarbonization
New and improved clean technologies, both in energy
production and energy consumption, are essential for
achieving deep decarbonization,1 dened by the DDPP as
achieving a 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050,
and zero net GHG emissions by 2070.2 Achieving decar-
bonization on this scale and time line cannot be achieved
by business as usual or regulation as usual; it requires the
wholesale transformation of our energy ecos ystem and will
depend on the coordinated and mindful development and
deployment of a portfolio of advanced technologies.3
e three principal strategies for achieving these deep
decarbonization goals as dened by the DDPP—energy
eciency, low-carbon electricity generation, and fuel
switching to electricity and other low-carbon fuels—are
all dependent on technologies.4 All three of these strate-
gies must be undertaken simultaneously by all nations to
prevent unacceptable harm from climate change.5 While
much of the focus will be on electrication of the energy
supply industry using renewable zero-carbon fuels such as
wind, solar, and perhaps nuclear energy, deep decarbon-
ization will also require reformation of the transportation,
1. David Popp, Innovation and Climate Policy, 2 A. R. R E.
275 (2010), abstract available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.
2. J H. W ., P D D
U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 1: T R (Deep
Decarbonization Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental Economics,
Inc., 2015), available at http://usddpp.org/downloads/2014-technical-report.
pdf [hereinafter DDPP T R].
3. Martin I. Hoert et al., Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability:
Energy for a Greenhouse Planet, 298 S 981, 986 (2002).
4. J H. W ., P D D
U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 2: P I
D D U S (Deep Decarbonization
Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc., 2015), avail-
able at http://usddpp.org/downloads/2015-report-on-policy-implications.
pdf [hereinafter DDPP P R].
5. J D. S ., S D S N-
, W C P N L-T D D
P 2 (2015), available at http://unsdsn.org/resources/publications/
building, industria l, and agricultural industries, with tech-
nological change at the forefront of those eorts.6
While t echnology i nnovation alone may not be sucient
for deep decarbonization—organizational, institutional,
and societal innovations will a lso be required7—tech-
nological innovation is a necessary and critical require-
ment to achieve GHG reductions of 80% or more from
current baselines.8 Technology innovation includes three
steps—invention, innovation (or development), and diu-
sion, each of which is an important step in achieving deep
decarbonizat ion goals.9 According to the DDPP, “[f]unda-
mentally new technologies are not required, but technical
progress is.”10 Existing commercial and near-commercial
technologies are for the most part available to achieve a
deep decarbonization pathway—“[b]ut policy must facili-
tate technical progress and volume production to keep
transition costs low.”11 Several key low-carbon technolo-
gies—in part icular plug-in electric vehicles, solar and wind
energy, and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting—are
making or are on the verge of mak ing major market break-
throughs and driving forward a low-carbon economy.12
e primar y focus for these technologies therefore shou ld
be initial deployment (end of stage two) and diusion
(stage three) through commercialization and widespread
More basic breakthroughs are still needed with other
technologies that will also be needed to achieve aord-
able deep decarbonization. For example, “trying to create
a zero-carbon power grid with only existing technologies
would be expensive, complicated and unpopular.”13 Major
advances will be needed in the functionality and costs of
a variety of technological sy stems, including cellulosic and
algal biofuels, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy
storage, electric vehicle batteries, smart charging, building
shells and appliances, cement manufacturing, electrical
industrial boilers, agricultural and forestry practices, and
source reduction from industrial emissions.14
6. E T C, S E T 4 (2016).
7. N A A R, C E P S-
I I C, A P
L-C S I E 15 (2016), available at
8. Gary E. Marchant, Sustainable Energy Technologies: Ten Lessons From the History
of Technology Regulation, 18 W L.J. 831, 831-33 (2009) [hereinafter
Marchant, Ten Lessons].
9. A R, supra note 7, at 23.
10. DDPP P R, supra note 4, at 52.
12. G S, T L C E: T
D’ S 5 (2016), available at http://www.goldmansachs.com/
13. Varun Sivaram & Teryn Norris, e Clean Energy Revolution: Fighting Climate
Change With Innovation, 95 F A. 147, 149 (2016).
14. James H. Williams et al., e Technolog y Path to Deep Greenhouse Gas Emis-
sions Cuts by 2050: e Pivotal Role of Electricity, 335 S 53, 55 (2012);
Sivaram & Norris, supra note 13, at 149.