United States, Marianne, Sierra Club discussed on Overnight re-air of day's programming
I'm sure I'm mispronouncing that and also please join it on the compensation on Twitter as reminder has tag re-energizing. I think some of you have already been doing that. But please keep it up. I wanted to Marianne. So you're beyond coal campaign has a goal of eliminating coal with an eleven years. While the green new deals goal appears to be calling to eliminate all carbon. And that's same timeframe. Are you worried that there's an increasing gap between the rhetoric and goals and reality of what's possible. Visit she's been radio programming from Tuesday. Thank you very much for all your great reporting. And thanks WRI for having me. It's an honor to be here. The Sierra Club. One of our our niches in the environmental movement is we have a democratically elected board of directors elected by our three million members and supporters and they have adopted the goal of getting all fossil fuels off the power grid by twenty thirty. And so the beyond coal campaign has been working for over a decade to first stop a wave of two hundred new coal plants that were proposed about during the George W Bush years, which we again with many many partner organizations with many grassroots folks all over the country who are worried about climate change water pollution, air pollution, public health. I stop those new coal plants, and then turned to the existing fleet of coal plants, and I live in West Virginia. So I very much take to heart of the comments about doing this in a way that doesn't leave people behind. That's an important part of the green new deal. But we are at the point now where we have over half the coal plants in the United States two hundred eighty seven announced to retire and given the urgency of the climate crisis and the pollution that comes not just from coal, but also gas extraction and production and burning we are working in earnest to try to get a electric grid in this country powered with renewable energy by twenty thirty and given the progress that we've made over the past decade. Yes, it's a lofty goal. But I also think it's possible Marian. But how much of the coal retirements were due to the shale natural gas revolution, which I know syrup also opposes. Well. There's no doubt that the gas revolution created a lot of dramatic changes in the electric sector for sure. And a lot of credit a lot of competition for coal. But I think the reality of right now is that we have a race in front of. For who is going to own America's energy future. And we are doing everything we can to make sure that renewable energy and storage win that race because we have the biggest change in. How we make trinity in America. I taking place right now. The biggest change since the industrial revolution. Frankly. And and it's a decision being made in states by cities by state decision makers by grassroots leaders by all the folks who are part of the beyond coal campaign pushing it influences decisions and so the future is up for grabs. And we are doing everything we can to make sure that renewable energy grabs future. Dan. What would you say is a blind spot in his debate of decarbonising both the electricity sector, but also possibly perhaps those are the blind spots, the transportation and the industrial sector. Well, I don't know if it's a blind spot. But I think one of the things that we need to consider is as where decarbonising the trysofi sector. We're probably also going to see a significant increase or need to see a significant increase in total electric demand as we electrify transportation and buildings and eventually industry. So Dan Lashof world Resources Institute. A fifty percent increase in electric, demand or more depending on how successful we are in increasing the efficiency of the existing end-uses of electric c which we should definitely be doing. But if but even with that a range of studies show that transportation and buildings and industry, you're going to mean, more electricity. That's actually can be very good thing. But it's something we have to plan for and that probably means I think one of the big. Friction points might be on transmission as we go to more renewables and the need for more electricity to decarbonised not just the power sector, but the entire Konami. We're going to need more transmission that'll be very cost effective thing to do. There's going to be a lot of issues around citing that perhaps new technology that can help with that if we can use high voltage DC lines that are cost effective to put underground rather than above head. That would really help avoid some of the fights that we're already seeing. But I would say that those are issues that we need to bring into the conversation. Karen, how essential do you think price on carbon is to any climate policy? I think it's crucial to climate policy. Because I think we talk a lot about the different technologies that are going to need to come on board and the need to decarbonised, but it's very hard to predict exactly what the solutions are going to be. And so having a price on carbon as a way to provide an incentive to reduce carbon emissions at various at all margins or wherever they occur. I having said that and it also provides revenue that can be used to dress various concerns that come up with talked about some of them that just transitions issues and also impacts on consumers as well. So there's it creates a body of revenue either through a carbon tax or a cap and trade program that has an auction associated with it. But I also think that we shouldn't necessarily think that that's going to be sufficient, I think particularly given the. The. Ambitiousness of what we need to do. And how how quickly we need to get it done that we're going to need programs related to research and development, and we'll probably also gonna need other types of policies to encourage technology and a carbon tax can provide some revenue for achieving those goals as well. So the good thing about only having one microphone for all four of them is that they can't talk over each other. I think CNN is to try to employ that strategy. So a question for all of you. And we touched on this a little bit in previous conversations but question on carbon capture technology, so former former Vice President Al gore told me at the UN climate conference in Poland last December that he thinks carbon capture technologies quote nonsense. Do you guys agree with that? And why or why not? I don't think it's nonsense. I think it's important to not rule out any particular technology, and to provide incentives through these pricing mechanisms I think. That. There are because there's such a bold challenge right now that we do need to keep a lot of options on the table. So I wouldn't want to rule it out at this point. Yeah. I agree with Karen on that. I think what I would add is I think win carbon capture was initially discussed a decade or so ago, the focus was on coal and keeping the coal industry in the United States alive and it being a pathway for coal. I think that's very unlikely if you had a technology neutral, whether it's a carbon tax or a clean, energy standard or cap, and trade and let these zero carbon technologies compete with each other. We would expect renewables to be the vast majority of the US electric generation. But for the last five percent ten percent. Twenty percent depends on the economics. It's very valuable to have technology that's dispatch -able, and that's where carbon capture could play a really important role. It's m- economics right now suggests that that's likely be on natural gas. The other place where carbon capture could be really crucial is for carbon dioxide removal. We are now if we'd started thirty years ago when we should have we probably wouldn't need to be talking about removing large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Now, we need to have that conversation. IPC one point five. We report makes that very clear and while there's a lot that we can do with so-called natural climate solutions. Trees are great way to take carbon out of the atmosphere. There's only so much land in the world, and we're going to have to feed ten billion people at the same time that we're trying to solve climate change. So we think there's likely to be a very significant role for technological carbon removal, and then capturing that to to and permanently keeping the atmosphere. Marianne is this something that the Sierra Club is supporting at all. Well, a couple of thoughts on that. From from my perspective. The there are a lot of other problems associated with fossil Fuel Development that carbon capture doesn't address. So if you're the mom of a child with asthma living near a coal plant. If you have coal ash related, lead, arsenic, mercury and your water. If you have a frac gas pipeline threatening your farm if you have fracking waste in your drinking water. There are many many reasons that people are opposed to fossil fuels and supportive of renewable energy that just addressing the carbon problem doesn't doesn't address. Mountains being blown up in Appalachia, for example. So that's that's one one factor. I think the other is we have utilities around the country now who are doing RFP's nips go in Indiana. Excel in Colorado and are finding that new solar was storage. New wind is cheaper than running existing coal plants. So nips go utility in Indiana is going to retire its coal plants, replace them entirely with wind solar with storage and efficiency and demand response..