Nobelists Plead for More Money for Clean Energy Research

Thirty-four U.S. Nobel Laureates today called on President Barack Obama to push for a steady funding mechanism in upcoming climate legislation to support clean energy research. Many billions of dollars are already flowing from stimulus funding, they note in a letter to Obama, but in 1.5 years that will all be spent. Billions more would flow from the Waxman-Markey bill passed recently by the House of Representatives, they concede, but most of that would go toward deploying technologies already in hand.

All that funding “is not enough to achieve goals for 2050” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, physics Nobel laureate Burton Richter said at a press conference held by the Federation of American Scientists. “Transforming the energy sector is a huge undertaking. To get what we need tomorrow, we need to invest more starting now.”

“More” would be the $15 billion a year for 10 years that Obama mentioned in his 27 April speech to the National Academy of Sciences. Proceeds from a cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions like the one in Waxman-Markey bill would fund a clean energy technology fund, the Administration has proposed. “The issue the science community sees,” said Richter, “is,'What are you going to be doing 10 years from now?' ” These researchers, at least, think it should be more research.