Recent, unexpectedly rapid technological improvement in renewables and battery technology has made clear that fossil fuels will eventually get phased out no matter what the government does. The only question is whether political leaders speed this process up or slow it down — and whether they help workers displaced by the inevitable change.
In the years since the GOP developed its talking points about the pain of transitioning from fossil fuels, the energy industry has changed dramatically. While no one was looking, solar, wind and battery technology got a lot cheaper, a lot faster, than almost anyone forecast — partly thanks to Chinese industrial policy — and thus renewable energy sources have grown increasingly competitive with fossil fuels.
In fact, the International Energy Agency’s new World Energy Outlook found that solar photovoltaics are “consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen.” Because of government subsidies, renewable prices are still lower today than they’d otherwise be — but even so, the main reason prices have fallen so fast is that technology has improved so dang much.