energy transition

Why We Can’t Wait

In climate policy, delay is deadly.

There are a lot of complaints about the very real flaws in the Inflation Reduction Act, tied with arguments that we should wait until we can do something better. In climate policy, however, waiting is dangerous.  We’ve already delayed far too long. Further delay means having to cut emission much more rapidly to make up …

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 Carrying the Freight

Decarbonizing trucking comes with some unique challenges.

A quarter of carbon emissions from transportation come from heavy-duty trucks. They are also disproportionate sources of air pollution.  Addressing these emissions will be challenging and will require a multi-prong strategy. For distances under a few hundred miles, electrification offers the most promising solution.  California and fourteen other states plan to make 30% of new …

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Breaking Up with Fossil Fuels

It’s not us. It’s you.

WORLD: Thanks for the card. . . . But I think we need to talk. FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY: About what? W: About us. FFI: About us?? Can’t it wait until some other time? This is Valentine’s Day, and I’ve made plans for us.  Big plans. W: The pandemic has given me a lot of time …

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Un-Inventing Fire

After many eons, reliance on combustion for energy is ending.

To head off disastrous climate change, we need to radically transform the modern energy system. We must largely move beyond the use of fire, the first and most important of inventions. The core energy technology used by humans has always involved, in one form or another, burning things up. To a large extent, combatting climate …

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Carrots and Sticks for Utilities

Utilities control a lot of the power system. How can we get their support for the energy transition?

Investor-owned utilities supply almost three-quarters of U.S. electricity. With some notable exceptions, they’ve tended to drag their feet on the energy transition. In order to push the transition forward, we need to get them on board.  This post will try to diagnose the problem and sketch some possible remedies. The proposed Clean Energy Standard is …

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Straws in the Wind

Businesses have intensified public support for climate action. That could presage a major shift in climate politics.

In the past few weeks, there’s been a notable growth of business support for climate action. A letter from the CEOs of 300 hundred major companies called for a 50% cut from 2005 carbon emissions by 2030.  The companies ranged from the utilities to tobacco to investment management. Google, McDonalds,  Walmart, and Philip Morris were …

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Institutional Capacity Building for the Energy Transition

State agencies will need help to deal with a fast-changing energy system.

The COVID pandemic has provided a vivid picture of what happens when ill-prepared governments are suddenly hit with huge responsibilities.  Underfunded state and local public health agencies were overwhelmed, while governors and local officials found themselves struggling to obtain and distribute vital supplies, from respirators to vaccines. Efforts to accelerate the transition away from carbon, …

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Despite Trump

Climate action outside DC is far broader and deeper than when he took office.

Trump remains a grave threat to climate action and to the planet at large. But there actually has been significant progress on climate policy despite him.  Not so much in DC, of course. But outside the Beltway, climate policy has widened and deepened. At the state level, there has been a barrage of climate activity.  …

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Tapping the Earth’s Power

Geothermal power could play an important role in decarbonization.

There’s been a lot of recent interest in geothermal energy. It can complement other renewables as they become a bigger part of the power mix. A recent study by DOE suggests that geothermal capacity could reach 60 Gigawatts by 2050. The basic technology is pretty simple: drill down into a reservoir of super-hot water (up …

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Leaving Paris (from Rex Tillerson’s Diary)

Here’s how the deal was undone.

Three years ago today, Trump announced that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Rex Tillerson, who was Trump’s Secretary of State about 10,000 tweets ago, was there, behind the scenes, when Trump was making the decision.  Here’s what he might have written in his diary:. April 1.  Talked with DT today.  He said he’d …

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