Can an "All of the Above" Approach to Decarbonization Work?

"All of the Abundance" at Ecomodernism 2022

A decade ago, the so-called “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy—one that embraced public policy and investment supportive of both low-carbon energy and fossil fuels—was the norm. Renewables were much more expensive than they are today, climate change was ranked relatively lower on policymakers’ list of priorities, and, not incidentally, the approach was working: the shale gas revolution that began in earnest around 2009 was lowering energy costs, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and driving some of the steepest emissions reductions in the world.

Today, with cheaper renewables, amidst more prominent catastrophist sentiment around climate risk, and farther along the coal-to-gas bridge, one might think the usefulness of this approach had come to an end. And yet, as revealed by the recently advanced Inflation Reduction Act and the Biden Administration’s backsliding on fossil energy restrictions, “all-of-the-above” is still the modus operandi in Washington. What should we make of this? Are policymakers wise, or short-sighted, to sustain investments in oil and gas supplies amidst spiking inflation and energy prices? Can the “all-of-the-above” approach to energy abundance build support for long-term decarbonization, or does such an approach inescapably kick the can down the road?


  • Arnab Datta, Senior Counsel, Employ America
  • Avrind Ravikumar, Research Associate Professor, University of Texas, Austin
  • Liza Reed, Research Manager, Low Carbon Technology Policy, Niskanen Center
  • Matthew Yglesias, Journalist, Slow Boring