Clean and Competitive: Opportunities for U.S. Manufacturing Leadership in the Global Low-Carbon Economy



Peter Fox-Penner, David M. Hart, Henry Kelly, Ryan C. Murphy, Kurt Roth, Andre Sharon, Colin Cunliff | Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Majorities of Democrats and Republicans—in Washington, DC, and around the country—agree on the goal of rebuilding the nation’s manufacturing sector. This sector has historically been a key job creator, with spillovers rippling across broad regions of the country and helping to lift many workers without a college education into the middle class. A strong manufacturing base creates a more resilient and equitable economy, accelerates innovation, strengthens international competitiveness, and improves national security.

At the same time, a growing majority of Americans (along with the vast majority of scientists) are alarmed or concerned about climate change and perceive it to be an important priority for the federal government, although public opinion is less unified on this issue than on manufacturing. If the world is to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement, the United States, along with other major world economies, will have to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions dramatically over the next three decades. The quest for net-zero emissions will touch every sector of the global economy.

Until very recently, these two national challenges have been treated largely within their own policy silos. Policies that sought to address the decline in U.S. manufacturing were not motivated by or centered on the need to transition to a net-zero economy. Climate policies focused primarily on the electricity system, even though that sector accounts for only about 25 percent of total U.S. emissions, and devoted little energy to addressing manufacturing, which may soon become the largest emissions sector.


To read the full report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, please click here.