The John Merck Fund

Clean Energy

The world’s scientists now agree that fossil fuel use is altering the global climate and thus severely damaging the ecosystems and conditions that support life on Earth as we know it. In effect, humans are experimenting on a massive scale with the Earth’s capacity to maintain healthy ecosystems or to absorb and adapt to the carbon pollution that humans cause.

After over 20 years of grantmaking both in and beyond New England, the Clean Energy Program is now concentrating exclusively in New England during the Fund’s last ten years. The goals of the Clean Energy Program are to reduce New England states' greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent within ten years, put the region on a trajectory to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, and in so doing, build a clean energy economy that will make New England a national leader in climate solutions. To achieve these aims New England needs to embrace a new vision of its energy future that:

1)    reduces reliance on coal and other fossil fuels;

2)    increases use of clean energy and maximizes investments in energy efficiency;

3)    electrifies heating and transportation, using clean energy to power our electricity sector; and

4)    modernizes our electric power grid to incorporate climate and consumer friendly innovations in technology.

New England states have been leading the way in creating precedent-setting state and regional energy policies, including the nation’s first carbon cap-and-trade system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Other programs are pursing aggressive renewable energy and efficiency targets that are spurring the region’s promising clean energy economy. When the federal government at last moves to adopt national climate and energy policies, state and regional programs can serve as models, laboratories, and aids to achieving meaningful clean air goals and greenhouse gas reductions.