Gore: U.S. Can Get 100 Percent Renewable Energy in 10 Years

In an effort to get American citizens and policymakers to think more aggressively about combating climate change, former Vice President Al Gore challenged the U.S. to procure 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources within 10 years.

The challenge was issued in a speech Gore gave in Washington on Thursday to promote his “We” campaign.

“This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans — in every walk of life: our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers and every citizen,” said Gore.

While admitting that the goal is extremely aggressive, Gore said it is necessary to set such a high bar in order to inspire bold, meaningful change.

“There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger,” he said. “In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly…”

Gore talked mostly about wind, solar and geothermal as the primary providers of electricity. Those resources, mixed with robust energy efficiency measures and advanced storage, could make up for the nation’s electricity needs, he said. The country also needs to work toward creating a national grid that could support the nation’s fleet of electric automobiles, he added.

While Gore neglected to mention the economic requirements for such a dramatic shift, a large group of experts, policy makers and renewable energy advocates have backed his goal, saying that it is time for a public figure to be calling for such ambitious targets.

“Finally a response to both the science of climate and the economics of energy on a scale commensurate with the problem. This is a plan that breaks us out of muddling, temporizing stalemate and sets a clear path forward towards an imaginable future,” said the author and climate activist Bill McKibben.

Working toward this challenge “would be the turning point that is needed to lead the world to a stable climate,” said Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “This is just what the doctor ordered: to cure our carbon addiction and stimulate the economy.”

For a piece of analysis on the achievability of Gore’s challenge, read this week’s Ask the Experts Column with Wind Expert Paul Gipe. 

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