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The U.S. must win the green technology race against China

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By Mary Anna Mancuso

· 3 min read

America has entered a new arms race. A race of such significance that it can only be compared to the Cold War Era nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the USSR. A race that is currently underway to see who will own the green economy, us or China.

Since 1949, America has had a complex relationship with China. Now in 2023, America’s superpower status is declining in the green technology sector as China is stepping up. By 2009, China had made the decision to commit to renewable energy development and throughout the government there was a wide acceptance of climate science. America has an opportunity to compete (and beat) China, if it will recognize the economic potential of embracing green technology.

For years, scientists have warned of the imminent threat posed by a warming climate if we do not take now to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. While calls to cap those emissions in the U.S. have proven impossible to enact, investment in clean technology is on the upswing. 

Let’s hope it’s enough.

Republicans have long been resistant to climate action, leaning into arguments stoked by the fossil fuel industry that doing so will harm the economy, cost jobs, and put fossil fuels out of business. But just as in the past we had to make the tough transition from using horse and buggies to driving cars, from handwriting everything to writing on word processors, from consulting encyclopedias (and card catalogs at the library) to find out what we need to know to consulting a hand-held computer that knows the answer to just about every question, so too must we make the transition to a clean energy economy.

And now that Republicans are in charge of the House of Representatives, it’s time for them to show their climate awakening after the 2018 election was more than just words.

The green energy race should be a priority in Congress and on the campaign trail. Americans, especially Republicans, have created a boogeyman of China. Now is their chance to act on it and remind the world that America is a leader, not a follower, on the world’s stage. 

During the Cold War, America had an incentive of nuclear proportion (no pun intended) to beat the Soviet Union. The stakes are just as high in the green arms race with China. Ceding this race to China, allowing their clean energy products, produced less efficiently and environmentally friendly than comparable products in the United States, would weaken our position both at home and abroad. Talk about hurting the economy. Basically, not embracing the policies that are going to help us own the clean energy revolution—and thus solve climate change—are the true costs of inaction.

Right now, the Republican’s best hope is their own Congresswoman from Washington, Cathy McMorris Rodgers. 

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers was recently named first woman chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the oldest and most powerful in Congress. She sets the committee’s agenda and has a real opportunity to change the narrative and take meaningful action—as long as she doesn’t get distracted by playing gotcha politics.

To Republican leaders, I ask: please don’t waste time looking for the new Solyndra in the Inflation Reduction Act. Instead of wasting time going after so-called “woke companies” whose ESG goals are in response to free market demands, learn more about what’s working for those companies and how others might benefit from their leadership.

It’s your challenge: position America as a leader in clean energy or pass the baton to China.

This article is also published on RealClear Energy. illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Mary Anna Mancuso is a spokesperson for and a political strategist based in West Palm Beach, FL.

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