A Closer Examination of Clinton’s Climate Change Proposal

Think Progress: Hillary Clinton “released a fact sheet detailing her plan to fight climate change, and it focuses heavily on promoting clean energy generation across the country. Among other things, the plan includes a promise to install half a billion solar panels by 2021, or the end of Clinton’s first term. That would represent a 700 percent increase from current installations, she said. Clinton also promised that, if elected, enough renewable energy would be produced to power every home in the country within 10 years.”

“The aggressive transition to renewables proposed by Clinton would be achieved partially through extending and strengthening tax breaks those industries, Clinton said.”

A chart provided by the Clinton campaign shows how Clinton's renewable energy goals compare to renewable generation today, and what would be achieved under Obama's Clean Power Plan.

Brad Plumer asks: “Is that plausible? US solar capacity grew 418 percent between 2010 and 2014 (it was starting from a small base). So a 700 percent rise between 2014 and 2020 is at least within the realm of possibility. But it’s undeniably a difficult task. The United States installed about 6.2 gigawatts of solar in 2014. Clinton is essentially vowing to up that rate to around 30 gigawatts per year during her tenure in office.”

Philip Bump adds that “solar has the benefit of being scalable on an individual level, which means that some organizing can help. And studies have found that solar power adoption is contagious. But despite the recent growth … solar is still a tiny part of the overall energy mix. In recent years, far larger growth in renewable power generation has been in wind.”

Ben Feman and Clare Foran in the National Journal point out that “the announcement does not address a suite of controversial topics, including whether Clinton supports the Keystone XL pipeline and whether she would allow oil drilling in Arctic waters.”

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