White House aims to increase US investment in clean-energy research to $13bn, but budget needs approval from Republican-controlled Congress
The Obama administration is seeking to make good on its promise to dramatically scale up investment in clean energy innovation, with President Obama announcing plans to double US investment in clean energy research to $12.8bn by 2021.
Speaking in his weekly address on Saturday, Obama said the new budget promised to boost private sector job creation, lower the cost of clean energy, and help renewable power outcompete fossil fuels "in every state".
"As I said in my State of the Union address, rather than subsidise the past, we should invest in the future," said Obama. "That's why the budget I will send to Congress this Tuesday will double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020."
The Republican-led Congress has indicated it is likely to reject Obama's budget plan, with House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi already planning to draft an alternative budget. The budget year begins in October.
However, Obama expressed hopes in his address that clean energy would prove a less divisive issue than some of the other components of the budget, pointing to the increased funding for clean energy research and development in last year's budget agreement. "While Republicans in Congress are still considering their position on climate change, many of them realise that clean energy is an incredible source of good paying jobs for their constituents," he said.
Any compromise between the two parties on clean energy funding would follow a similar bipartisan deal to extend tax breaks to wind and solar projects late last year, and ongoing hopes that a bi-partisan energy reform bill featuring increased support for energy efficiency programmes and grid upgrades could yet be passed. The proposed energy bill was blocked in the Senate last week in a row over emergency aid funding for tackling the water pollution crisis in the Michigan city of Flint, but with the two parties agreed on much of the bill hopes remain that it could yet be adopted.
The US was one of tens of countries to launch a private-public partnership dubbed "Mission Innovation" in November at the Paris climate conference, which aims to encourage countries to drastically scale up investment clean energy innovation investment.
Each of the 20 participating countries, which include China, India, Saudi Arabia and the UK, will seek to double their governmental or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over the next five years.
In the UK, the Autumn budget statement from chancellor George Osborne just before the Paris conference saw the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s innovation funding double to £500m over the next five years, despite the department facing a 22 per cent cut in day-to-day spending,.
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