Opponents of the U.S. congressional Democrats' Green New Deal point to Germany as an example of a country where similar policies have backfired. They should take a closer look; the United States could do well to imitate Europe's largest economy.

Here's how the case against Germany goes: Despite a sustained effort to boost sustainable sources of energy, carbon emissions haven't fallen in recent years because the country hasn't been able to kick its coal dependence. At the same time, renewables subsidies have helped drive up energy bills to make them the highest in Europe, hurting business competitiveness and consumers.

Though the numbers in this argument are correct, the picture is far more complex, all the more so because of Chancellor Angela Merkel's impulsive decision to phase out nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and the fraught geopolitics of natural gas supplies.