In a net-zero future, there would be almost no power plants with uncontrolled emissions. But at the start of this year’s presidential campaign, way back in the spring of 2019, climate wonks and even activists assumed that future would remain a generation—and several technical innovations—away. That started to change this summer.
In a surprise move for a cautious candidate, Joe Biden put a 100% clean grid at the core of his climate agenda. Even more remarkable was his proposed timeline: 15 years. It was startlingly ambitious, considering his prior goals for eliminating emissions focused on a more gradual and familiar 30-year timetable.