2023 Annual Report: Breakthrough Institute
The Breakthrough Institute has faced controversy throughout the year due to its critical standpoints on environmental and climate topics. The institute challenged the mass adoption of electric vehicles and opposed the reappointment of Jeff Baran, a perceived obstructionist commissioner, on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and sparked a global debate about publication bias in climate science. Despite the backlash, the institute stands by its positions, stating that their predictions and analyses have proven accurate in many instances, such as automakers scaling back electric vehicle production due to softened demand, and difficulties faced in rapidly scaling up clean technology and infrastructure due to rising costs and regulatory barriers.
Breakthrough Institute’s 2023 Reflection
The year 2023 was marked by a series of controversies at the Breakthrough Institute. A notable example occurred in April when Ashley Nunes and myself released an essay scrutinizing the likelihood of mass electric vehicle adoption, making waves in the environmentalist and progressive Democrat communities. Furthermore, we became one of the first pro-nuclear organizations to publicly oppose Jeff Baran’s third term as commissioner at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Another significant event was the publication of a peer-reviewed paper by Patrick Brown, which ignited global discussions about publication bias in climate science literature.
Disrupting Climate and Energy Debates
The year’s contentions, though discomforting, were not unexpected. Stirring polarized debates around climate change, clean energy, and food and agriculture is itself contentious. To disrupt these debates, challenging ingrained beliefs about climate risk, technological progression, and governmental roles became a necessity. Unapologetically advocating for a scientifically grounded view of climate risks, a positive outlook on technology, and skepticism over regulatory interference in tech advancements was not an easy task.
Efficacy of Controversial Approaches
However, in the long run, these controversial stances have proven their worth. This includes the importance of public investment in technology, innovation, and infrastructure in climate mitigation efforts; the need for nuclear energy and technological agriculture; and the limitations of renewable energy and organic farming. These positions continue to prove valid in light of emerging events and trends.
Significant Developments in 2023
In recent developments, automakers are adjusting their electric vehicle production plans due to reduced demand and increasing inventories. The Inflation Reduction Act, less than a year old, is already facing challenges due to rising costs and regulatory hurdles, hindering the rapid scaling up of clean technology and infrastructure. Furthermore, our controversial stance against the Baran reappointment has seemingly halted it, opening possibilities for substantial regulatory reform at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The disparity between the Biden administration’s climate goals and the deliverables through traditional clean energy subsidies and environmental regulations is growing. There is a pressing need for alternative strategies concerning nuclear energy, permitting, electric vehicles, and the power sector. With an expanding presence in Washington, DC, the Breakthrough Institute is well-situated to provide not only visionary leadership but also detailed policy insights.
Commitment to Change
We are dedicated to reshaping conventional environmental politics and developing alternative approaches. We aim to moderate the climate culture wars, advocate for quiet climate policy, and establish a politics of abundance. This mission invites controversy and reaction, but we believe that over time, willingness to face these challenges is key to forging a successful ecological politics that benefits both people and nature.
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