Addressing the Global Energy Challenge: Accelerating the Transition to Carbon-Neutral Energy Sources

(Adopted by Council on April 22, 2017)

The Council of the American Physical Society strongly advocates that the United States: 1) implement policies that promote conservation, efficiency, sustainability, resilience and innovation throughout the global energy system; 2) make sustained and broad-based investments in research and development of long-lasting reduced-carbon and carbon-neutral energy cycles and technologies; and 3) support research into means of reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases and heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere. Such policies and investments are essential to ensure our national security and to provide an adequate range of options that will protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as called for in the APS Statement on Earth's Changing Climate.

Background:
The global demand for energy continues to grow as the world population increases and as nations expand or address concerns of development, equity and security. Because of the detrimental climate impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-generated energy there must be a global move toward carbon-neutral or carbon-free sources of energy that are as environmentally benign as possible throughout their life cycle. The transition to low-fossil carbon emissions will require changes in how energy is generated, used and stored worldwide. Energy distribution and storage systems of all scales will also need to have a high degree of stability, adaptability and resilience.

Physics research plays a vital role in addressing the technological challenges associated with creating a global economy that is based on long-lasting, and ultimately, carbon-neutral or carbon-free sources of energy and systems that minimize harm to the global environment. Additionally, the physics community must continue to do its part to educate the public and train the present and future workforce in energy research, development, and technology.