Revisiting Pandemic Predictions for Energy


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Welcome over the next couple of episodes. We're going to dive into the top stories that define this frenzied and heavy year this week. We'll start with a look back at how covid reshaped the energy transition. We're going to revisit some predictions that did and didn't come true in our next episode. We'll look at a wider range of twenty twenty stories. Non pandemic related then later in the show. Advertising and pr professionals are suddenly being pressured to reveal how much of their income is from fossil fuel clients are firms in this industry the next to lose their social license and last what could a youth climate core accomplish and it be set up. We looked to a depression. Era program to rally the passions of america's climate generation. The gang is here. passions are always rallied. Here catherine hamilton is with us from arlington virginia. She's our co host and the co founder of thirty eight nor solutions. Hi catherine i getting ready for the holiday madness. And what kind of madness does that bring to you. Hammel tony madness. Usually we have a big dessert party with hundreds of people which we're not gonna have this year. But i do have to be a little bit more thoughtful. Because with a kid living in alaska. Now i have to mail things a lot sooner. Jaeger's gonna drive over from bethesda and be knocking on your door for some desert. Leave a shoebox of cookies out on the sidewalk. Are you actually going to decorate the whole house. And go to the nines on that We've done some inside. We haven't put on all the outdoor light. So you have that great table right with all those little figurines and my kids love style. My my kid. My kid loved that last year and was trying to break some of the pieces. We successfully thwarted from doing a steadily find. It slipped through forecast stories. I have like a five foot minister on my stairs. And i went to go by garland and all they had was forty foot guards. I pulled it out like a magician and jigger shah is our other co host. he's the president and co founder of generate capital. He's in bethesda maryland. How are you jigger. i'm good. I'm good we are. We're scaling a lot of things back this season but But not our love for all of you. Well let's begin with a recap of a story that we have all lived and deeply felt the twenty twenty pandemic. it's been a brutal ten months for so many people and it's exposed a lot of faults in our energy system from how air caused more pain and suffering for people of color when kovic to political favouritism for fossil fuels. Through the american stimulus to the vulnerabilities public transit and recognition of the drastic changes will need to make in order to maintain the steep emissions. Dropped we saw this year. I mean we saw what percent drop in emissions and we're going to need to do that year after year after year year so it felt right to ask what just happened. What has the pandemic meant for the energy transition. Nearly a year on we've seen oil markets collapsed. Businesses frees up people out of work and massive swings and energy use but simultaneously. We've seen a strong surge in renewable energy and storage so each of us is going to look at a prediction about the pandemic that did play out and one that didn't catherine. What are your predictions that you wanna talk about this week. Yes so one thing is that Given the economic hit that the entire country has taken and in particularly the clean energy industry. We were really hoping to get a really good. Economic stimulus package The house of representatives passed a couple of big bills are the moving forward. Act was one of them. There was a clean energy package. Both of those contained a lot of provisions that would be held to this industry that we really really needed But of course the senate did not take those up with. This is a frustrating story. Not just because of the inaction but because of what happened through the cares act. I mean the fossil fuel industries. Very explicitly got tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks and debt relief from the federal reserve and so it wasn't just that we avoided taking action. It was at the action we did take actually benefited dirty energy and a pretty substantial way. Yeah that was super frustrating. Especially a sense you know oil. Prices were historically low. And you know some of that. Just that funding just did not increase productivity or help the economy at all. And that's what we desperately need is an infusion into economy and that's what investment in clean energy would do. Yeah i mean. I guess i'd say that to me. The part that was so frustrating was just at the europeans actually did pass a green deal. And it's gonna be roughly a trillion dollars of capital right. I mean you know. Compared to let's say ninety billion we got on the stimulus. I mean and ours is a big number and so and it's in green hydrogen and electric vehicles and all that stuff and so when you think about what could have been You actually don't have to imagine like you actually because look across the pond and see what could have been right and what they did was. They took advantage of the fact that people had seen a vision of what life is like without a bunch of fossil fuel out there without cars driving around in airplanes flying and and could actually have this. This sense of we can do this. And i think so. They built that into every part of their covert. Recovery was. Of course really hopeful. We would do the same so what happened in america. Then i mean i remember nancy pelosi getting up and other leaders saying yet. We think we can make this happen. We think that they're going to be subsequent Spending bills for relief And it never happened. There was a decent amount of them. You know when the first Economic relief package was passed. That there would be future bills. So what happened. Well i mean pelosi did not bills so she was true to her word she got a lot done and send them over to the senate and the senate did not act. I mean they just didn't have the same priorities. They didn't think they did not want to do anything on energy. They wanted to be very focus on helping businesses recover. So you know that was it was a mitch. Mcconnell call while. I mean when i talked to grassley office what they told me was that like trump specifically said nothing for solar and went like like not just his legislative aide or as chief of staff or whatever like the president himself was like i do not want anything for solar and wind in the bill right like we were actually singled out so like my sense is that this is this is more the republicans again not standing up to trump and standing up for their constituents and instead you know like just cowering in their the presence of trump. The white house had a lot to do that and they hate. Abc's too so it's not limited to wind and solar But yeah definitely the white house and the party has been very reliant on those priorities so while we're lamenting what could have been we're looking forward to what may be under a biden administration and congress has signaled that we could pass a nine hundred more than nine hundred billion dollar relief package with some potential clean energy goodies. The biden administration has supported. So what does this latest activity and could it re correct. Some of the Earlier failures yes a lot. That's trying to happen at the end of this year. They want to clear the decks For the new congress in january and so there they have to pass their spending bills. They gave themselves an extra week to work on an and to come up with an agreement on some kind of a covert relief package. Now it's going to be very limited. I will be surprised if there's very much at all for energy in there certainly we continue to push for it but it's gonna be a combination of aid assistance related specifically to covid for people and to to you know like rent and you know making sure that that people don't have to pay loans back as fast and that sort of thing rather than specific to clean energy. I do think there is a big opportunity. And the size of the opportunity and the scope of that Will depend on who is in control of the senate Certainly after the georgia races will know more about that but in any case. I do think there's an opportunity early in twenty twenty one to do an infrastructure package of some sort and that could get a lot of clean energy in it. The premise of this conversation was to come with a prediction. That did come true and one. That didn't come true. you have to predictions. That didn't come true. What is your other one. Sorry no but the other one is actually really good news. That's why it was confusing to me as well. I don't know it's good news. Take yeah so when a width cova. Everybody thought that everything would just shut down and that clean energy would stop altogether and that the energy storage boom that has been going on would would just slow to a halt and it didn't. It did incredibly well. It has been the biggest year ever for energy storage. The growth is unbelievable Would mac has said that storage. Beat records in q two and then again by two hundred seventy percent in q three so in the third quarter of this year there were four hundred seventy six megawatts installed. This is just massive so while kovic was slamming. The economy in a lot of ways Especially conventional energy sources. Boy the um the storage industry is just booming. And they don't think that this is an outlier so we looked to the next year as you know it's going to be double in twenty twenty and triple and twenty twenty one so It's it's pretty incredible. There's an expectation of Seven point five gigawatts by two thousand twenty five energy stored. So it's very good news. You know we had some significant Events that caused people to sign these contracts last year. And i think what was roic was getting the the projects built right that like you know with covid restrictions and this and that and construction and yada like they actually were able to get them. Constructed input put online p. Jeannie has some huge battery orders that they made as well as southern california edison to get online by june of next year To try to prevent any grid issues for next year right and so i think they're putting a tremendous amount of pressure on these big battery suppliers whether it's tessler fluence or others and these folks are delivering which i think is fantastic. Yes interesting because the residential storage market is still not going quite as quickly. It's just a little bit more disaggregated in it. It is driven very much by resilience needs coupled to solar but The the numbers are still high. It's just not growing at the pace as the transmission grid scale side. Okay jigger over to you a prediction that you are someone else thought would play out as a result of covid. That did actually play out. So i had. I had so many that like my brain was swirling The one i settled on was probably more conventional. But i still think is the most important one to me which is I think we did predict the decimation of the oil industry. But i think it's been truly breathtaking to see like that decimation. Play out right up to up until last week when exxon finally caved and reduce their Capex predictions For an investment as well as ritt wrote down you know some of their assets on the balance sheet so it it is truly bryn a disastrous year for the oil industry this year and how wide are these. Ripples that started in the spring of this year i mean. How far does this go. What kind of wide-reaching impacts can we expect in oil industry that started in twenty twenty. It's pretty wide. So i was on energy panel for the federal reserve of dallas and kansas city. A few weeks ago and You know the experts from the oil industry that were on the panel with me. Basically said that money has been pulled out of the sector will just permanently right like like even on these auctions for assets now where they're assuming people are going to buy stuff at ten cents on the dollar. They're just not getting bids right. That people are basically saying we're not allowed to bid on these assets even at zero sense. We're not willing to buy these assets and so so there's just a lot less liquidity in the market people recognize that this stuff is just off limits and there's a lot less dollars In the space. But more importantly. I think that when you think about the fall of exxon mobil i mean It is it is one of those things where you know. They're really one of the most or used to be one of the most. Well run companies in the world In terms of the operations. And i would say in the last four or five years. They've really you know Degraded to the point where Their return on equity Their safety incidents they're oil spills like everything is up to the point where you're like wh- what happened to this company. And at the beginning of the year we saw some big announcements most notably from bp we've had a couple episodes on what's happening within bp. Under bernard looney does that make e moves all the more Wise yeah i mean when you think about why is right. Think about like this in dollar terms right and so you know. Exxon mobil wants to spend roughly. Let's say twenty five to thirty billion dollars in tax every year the hedge funds and others who are coming after them are basically saying that they should be spending less than thirteen billion dollars a year just to keep things running and keep the oil flowing right at a very minimum. That means that exxon mobil basically burned through fifteen billion dollars or so that they didn't need to burn through the bp and a relative basis saved right and so by by moving more quickly. And that's a lot of money. I mean for most of us. Thirteen billion dollars or fifteen dollars is something that could have paid for a lot of battery storage or a lot of wind and solar or a lot of electric vehicle. Fleets or whatever it is that you would have invested in and so it is breathtaking to think about how much money exxon just set on. Fire this year That they could have actually saved if they would have been. You know smarter air. What about a prediction that you thought would play out. That didn't so you know. I would say that the prediction that i'm going to give you guys. I think is a work in progress. But i think as relates to catherine's point on residential storage. I i truly thought that de ers and demand response would would get some sort of like blessing right. Not just by the for of or by you know other folks but actually like a real blessing like that. The utilities would say. We're definitely gonna take advantage of this stuff or you know the grid. Operators we're gonna say we're definitely gonna take advantage of stuff and i've just had a lot of conversations recently even like with With folks about what happened with cutie am which was that rev project new york was trying to do To prove that they could you know. Push off upgrading that substation brooklyn and in the end. Everyone has basically come to the conclusion that helping individual consumers frontline consumers. You know people of color. Whatever is hard and day and it is their fourth priority that they would rather build a three hundred megawatt Battery just one battery then to figure out how to get these these assets in everyone's homes. They just think it's too hard and even though they want it to work and they wanna say all the right things. The money is not flowing that that did not happen. This year which i thought would change after the blackouts in california. I really thought money would flow differently. And it's not flowing. Is there a specific cova. Crossover as well. Well the cova crossover israel right remember. Think about how much. Electricity has shifted from commercial customers to residential customers. This year right and so you have all these people at home who are using way more electricity and they're happy to have lower electric bills. They would love for their utilities to say. Instead of spending ten billion over here we're gonna spend two billion in your houses because that actually produces the same benefit it's eighty percent cheaper to provide two billion dollars of stuff to you then to build ten billion dollars of more transmission distribution but the regulators. Everyone basically believes that something is amiss. And they don't want like for instance they could give people stuff for free. That is what chris cox new analysis shows the. You could give people all of this stuff for free and it would be cheaper than rape basing upgrades to the distribution grid and they would rather not give people stuff for free. They'd rather you know people have to knock on doors and find people to opt in and pay a twenty five percent co pay and all this stuff to be able to do it because they just feel. It's not right to give people stuff for free. And so i feel like we are going to be behind the curve for much longer. And even with i twenty two twenty two and everything else. I feel like people are betting against individual action and individual household action. Well yeah i never mind new york go to my south and all they want to do is build natural gas plants. So that's another thing so that to me. I really thought. I love the the press release from connect with sidewalk The big announcement that they made on one hundred million dollar fund but. I don't think that this will be mainstream way of managing the grid For released this year next year. And my says it's not tracking towards becoming a mainstream way that we manage the grid. I wish i could say that. This doesn't increase job security for me for the next couple of years. But i'm afraid. I'm to have to keep plugging away in the vineyards for. Dar's certainly lock of your efforts that this is occurring. But i do think that people are just used to like one contract one asset one large deployment So well start where the prediction that i think everyone thought would happen. And it played out almost exactly as we expected which was the complete decimation of public transportation in major cities around the. Us and the resurgence of personal automobiles The numbers are really staggering. Ridership around the country is forty percent of pre pandemic levels in washington and san francisco washington. Dc and san francisco. It's at fifteen percent of pre pandemic levels in new york city. It's at thirty percent of pre pandemic levels and just this last week or so. We've seen transit agencies around the country say were shutting off sir weekend service. We're going to significantly scale back weekday service and what happens is it doesn't really hurt a lot of the people who are able to work from home. It hurts poor people people who still need to get to work and it's really devastating for families who have to rely on the bus system and the metro system so this is really bad all around not just because it has his acute impact for people who really rely on these services but also because it will extend the economic pain that a lot of these cities are going through and so it takes. It can take years for these transit agencies to recover and they have not gotten any federal relief. This ties into catherine your point on the lack of Additional economic relief packages m. the republicans have failed to provide or show their support for for Any additional federal funds that would go to these agencies. Now there is a thirty two billion dollar plan as part of this nine hundred billion dollar congressional relief package that were considering. Joe biden has thrown his support behind. It he has the need to continue funding public transportation in these major cities. But it's been really really bad And simultaneously we've seen a lot of people buying pandemic cars We saw twenty two percent increase over in car buying this summer. And that's the highest level since two thousand seven and this is not something that will put cars on the road for a year or two years. The average car stays on the road for eleven years. So what we're talking about are two simultaneous impacts. That we all saw were coming. The could have reverberations for years to come. And we know that transportation emissions are now the highest source of greenhouse gases in the us and this makes it harder to tackle that yeah boy wouldn't it be great With any kind of relief if you could tie it to electrification of some of these the sector because that would be super helpful it would also kind of goes to the funding for For much more cost effective technologies to be put into transportation. Yeah no. I totally agree. And so. I want to stipulate that i agree with you completely around the impacts on communities. But i do want to give you a little bit of a contrarian view which is that my own experience with transit is that they are completely inflexible. And when you think about like ryan poppe when we had him on the podcast He was predicting that would move to. Ev buses today. The economics of moving tv buses is like just rock solid and very few transit agencies. Are doing anything interesting. In av buses. I think when you think about all of the integration. They were supposed to do with uber and lift. They haven't done any of it. Some of the integration with via is kind of happening there's been tons of studies shown in la and other places that micro mobility whether it's shared bikes or shared a scooters etc actually was providing really important services for the poor communities and departments of transportation have not really embraced how to pay for those things. People's transit jackson transit dollars and so at a time when they could have been offering more choices which would have actually helped them through this crisis. They decided a long time ago. They didn't want to provide choices to their consumers and instead wanted all of this stuff to be run separately from the department of transportation and public transit and to me that has to change so i hope that those strings are attached to the thirty four billion dollars. It's coming out of dc that they have to stop being a dinosaur. They have to actually figure out how to bring innovation into public transit. So a thing that happen that we thought would happen. Was supply chain disruption. I should say it did happen. But it didn't have the impacts that we thought so. In april we saw a lot of stories about the freezing supply chains not just in renewables but in consumer electronics in agriculture in all sorts of heavy industries And that is of course because a lot of supply chains are rooted in china in particular in clean energy were thinking about wind turbine blades. Gearboxes battery materials solar panels A variety of clean energy products. 'em everything froze all at once In fact our parent company would mackenzie predicted that we would see. Many many gigawatts of project delays as a result of the tumbled in supply chains. Mostly coming out of china I e predicted a similar. Drop in fact. They thought that we would see for the first time in twenty years a drop in renewable energy deployment. And what do you know. It didn't play out and Companies found creative ways to source their products differently. A lot of countries Broke down cross border restrictions allowing for the movement of goods and that opened things up and very quickly we saw clean energy rebound and it turns out that this year we're going to see a seven percent increase in deployment of renewable energy and ninety percent of new electricity capacity. According to ali is gonna come from wind solar and water a complete reversal from what we imagined back in april. So this is another really positive story that we weren't sure how it's going to play out. It was looking really bad in the spring. Hey you know one anecdote that in two thousand and three. I paid one hundred dollars to post a bat on long. Bats dot org That seventy five percent of everything. We deployed an electric cleaned by twenty twenty and the eia actually found my old bet and actually tweeted out that they were certifying that it was going to come true this year after all of the drama ea cobs like official. Twitter account actually certified. It was awesome coming up. We'll targeting the pr agencies behind the fossil fuel industry make a dent in emissions. I a quick word about the folks who bring you this show for free for brought to you. By virtue tila energy for tila has created the path to one hundred percent which is a group of leaders and industry experts working together to identify the fastest. Most cost effective ways to decarbonise elect. Trysofi not just city by city but across entire states and nations. This means addressing economic scientific and political challenges vary around the world so the path to one. Hundred percent is not one-size-fits-all. Instead of aims to provide information that can help each locality and company person customized their own path to one hundred per said to learn more and download the pathway to one hundred percent visit path to one hundred dot. Org we're also brought to you by honeywell honeywell tasr the next generation of smart grid technology right here right now. Honeywell has partnered with leading cellular carriers to integrate five g and lt technology into its energy solutions for smarter buildings cities and mission critical markets. It's scalable and customizable platform makes it easy for utilities to build grit intelligence and help customers find new opportunities for efficiency and automation honeywell. Smart energy is delivering the future of utility connectivity energy dot honeywell dot com so the divestment movement has been pretty successful in moving institutional money away from fossil fuels over thirteen hundred institutions with fourteen trillion dollars to invest have vowed to eliminate fossil fuels from their portfolio since two thousand twelve. Bill mckibben the prolific author activist and founder of three fifty dot. Org was a very important figure who articulated why that divestment movement should exist and he helped create with a lot of other organizations and people create that strong movement and earlier this year activists who have been focused on divestment turned their attention to retail banking calling out the financial institutions that serve customers. Like you and me who are also heavily invested in dirty energy telling people to cancel their checking accounts. Cut up their credit cards knowing that it wouldn't have much of an impact on the bottom line but the idea was to strip the social license of these companies embarrassed them and make them change their practices in other areas that they serve as a result of this activity over the years. Large financial institutions have distanced themselves from coal oil and gas including at the beginning of the year. The world's largest asset manager blackrock and now mckibben is turning his spotlight on the advertising industry. The marketing and public relations professionals who make it look like exxon for example is in the algae business rather than the oil extraction business in this new yorker column outlining the strategy one. Pr professional told him every copywriter designer and strategist will have to pick a side and mckibben explains his strategy. This way now. I want to focus on another industry that buttresses the status quo the advertising lobbying and public relations firms that help provide the rationalizations and the justifications that slow the pace of change although these agencies are less significant monetarily than banks they are more so intellectually if money is the oxygen on which the fire of global warming burns than pr campaigns and snappy catchphrases are the kindling i. I love begins writings to draw this out. is beautiful. Yeah catherine what does this campaign all about what are you. What do you make of it. Yeah it's pretty interesting and it started with al money a huge agency. Pr agency you know. Some of its workers saying. Why are we doing this. Why are we working for a company that is helping other companies that are burning the planet down and so they started this clean creatives group that pledges that as agencies strategist and creatives we refuse any future contracts with fossil fuel companies trade associations or front groups and as clients. We refuse any future contracts with agencies or creative work with fossil fuel companies trade associations or front groups. It's a little more complicated than this. There are kinda two things that i think about one is the money. There is so much money in ads ad. Buying unilever's spends eight billion dollars a year on marketing. And you think about where all the ads are. You know. Baseball stadiums Just tv everywhere. Ads have money. So it's hard to separate oneself from money if you are given that opportunity but the other thing is that these companies like settlement. Wpp which i actually worked for quinn. Gillespie which was bought by. Wpp for a while Nicole all of these groups. And i actually on the com- is owned by. W p p to these conglomerates what they do is they buy a whole bunch of small boutique. Firms that have different specialties and different accesses in different skill sets and then then they're able to be a one stop shop for all their clients and often the the folks that they buy the little companies that they buy have nothing to do with what's happening. You know three boutique firms over from them And may not even know what they're doing so there's the money issue but there's also just the issue of the these are giant conglomerates that do a ton of different things and they may do something For clean energy in one piece of their their company and then another piece. They'll do something for exxon it so it's kinda hard to tease it all out trigger. Do you think this pressure campaign will work. You know first of all. Let me just say that. I love pill i love his writing and i love what he does. I i continue to get confused about you. Know like whether this is sort of correlation or causation. And i feel like we continue to sort of just confuse ourselves like i mean with divestment. For instance you know like all was terrible investment. The last twelve years people who agreed to divest early in that movement saved a lot of money the newark pension funds who just announced their divesting. This week like lost a ton of money and oil before the divested and so like. I don't know whether people are divested because it's just a bad investment. They should be devastating. Or whether they're divesting because you know of the other piece of it. And then i think that like so in this space. The thing that i continue to struggle with is when catherine talks about boutique firms. Let's describe what that means right. There is a company that no one's heard of called nike. There is a local firm that they actually invest in right. Who basically does weird ass at and people are like. Oh this is really cool and hip and cool and then like fifteen years later they actually become a fairly large firm and then they got bought by. Wpp in the nike account goes with that particular firm to w p right. The same thing happened with walmart. The same thing happened with some of these other things. So the notion that you're going get ataman or wpp or whatever to say no to exxon mobil and then exxon mobil can't just start another boutique firm with one of its current like employees and spinning them out and saying. Why don't you start this thing in lake. Have your cousin help you. And whatever whatever like it just feels like part of the reason why this stuff works is because media is a business right there. Sixty billion dollars year of ad buying to Television still right when you think about like the wall street journal and cnbc and the financial times who basically never do a story unless negative about clean energy right like there are editors who are awesome and love the energy transition. They have to take their copy all the way up to senior people who like i didn't cut their like stories down right and then we go to kathryn blunt or like you know russ goldens russell and say hey you know how come you wrote that piece or like i two thousand words in there. That were awesome. That got cut out of the peace and like all of this stuff is really incestuous like it's all tied together and i'm just saying that the ad agencies are not gonna get any money from exxon mobil and suddenly. All of this stuff gets better to me like that. I think is tenuous at best. I think you're convoluted it. I don't think it's as complicated as you're making it out to be. There are a number of forces that have made companies change and that is internal pressure. Companies like amazon have had to shift their strategy in major ways because people within those companies have gotten sick of their feet dragging. And it has forced jeff bezos and amazon is a company to make much bigger moves and spend their money in different ways. The same thing happened at facebook. When facebook was buying coal for its data centers greenpeace came out of the report shaming the heck out of them and they facebook felt because of this external pressure like they needed to shift. And now they're one of the biggest renewable energy buyers for data centers in that happened with some of the other tech companies. That were lagging The i think the the proof is in the pudding with the divestment movement. That pressure has worked. And it's worked for financial institutions. That were very heavily invested in this stuff and then bill mckibben in this piece lays out A change over at porter. Novelli a major firm that has been working with the american public gas association and they said as a firm. We have reevaluated. We bring in scientific assessments to how were working with clients and we have evaluated the role of natural gas the energy system and its impact on climate change and we are no longer work with the american public gas association in twenty twenty one. That's freaking huge. I mean think about how all these firms were like tripping over themselves to represent the gas industry and push this brett. Natural gas is a bridge. From two. Thousand twelve onward. I mean that is such monumental shift. And i actually think that the pressure campaigns are a lot simpler than you're making him out to be but i agree with jigger and that the pressure campaigns while really important and really good at shining light on things there there are a lot of other factors that go into that one of which is just public opinion has shifted and people have climate change smacking them in the face every day the impacts are are real and they can see them and so it's much harder to do an ad that said and i just saw one on tv the other night who a gas industry. That like. don't do anything about climate now. it's too expensive. I think most people would call bs on that but what they still do is like the sofa changed that exxon uses on algae they have pictures of scientists with algae doing amazing things just to make the greenwashing to make themselves look better or come up with these fake studies to show that they're climate-friendly And that actually. Your natural gas is a great thing. It's really good for you So they can still do that. But i do think that there's this. This combination of factors one is shining a light on it and exposing the facts but the other pieces just public opinion has shifted and it will continue to do so as the impacts of climate change are felt. And how far does this go for you. Stephen like so so i think in your example you're talking about employees led efforts which bill wireless doing at the tech companies and i think is awesome and so we should absolutely say that but i don't think exxon mobil is getting a revolt amongst its employees. Because they're working for an oil and a company but but the next piece of it is what about the airlines like. Think about all these crazy stories. We're seeing where quanta 's is basically just having flights to nowhere and they're bragging about how so many of their customers actually want to just get in an airplane that like they're just circling around for six hours and then landing again associated like agencies. Now be like cancel airline industries. Because they're doing stupid things for the climate that like. How far does this go like when you think about the ad agency saying what about cement companies. Who don't put in low carbon cement technologies fast enough or steel industries who are not switching to hydrogen for. You know they're important pieces right or add. Companies who basically are not moving away from fossil fuel heavy fertilizer. Fast enough right like. Where does the cancel culture. Stop and like how is it that you're actually like making you know because you're telling young people to not work for four different than cancel code. You're saying don't work. I don't work for this ad firm because they take on bad client. No i'm saying. I'm saying this ad firm should not be serving clients that are trying to obfuscate and confused about climate change. That are playing up in greenwashing but they but you can make them but you can make them. That's the whole point of this campaign is to articulate a vision for making them care about the clients that they take on. That's the whole point of it. The response i would have to that stephen is it like the reason i think policy is so important is because that's how you do this right and the that i think should be shamed are like the state legislature of new york. That still hasn't passed the green cement bill or these other legislatures. Who basically like yeah. Let's make it harder for the oil industry to operate in our state but we're not gonna ban internal combustion engines right. That's how you do this. If you want people to change you say look. We're just changing like from now on going forward because of all the impacts on the climate and the impacts on frontline communities and the impacts on asthma and all the other things that we already know about we as a public to have decided that we're passing a law that says that by x. date we're going to ban the use of these high carbon practices right and then the industry says we have new set of rules we are now going to change and the the pr firms and advertising firms. Everybody else gets in line. But i just think that we always let the politicians off the hook because it's like oh their constituents and yada yada yada but like we're like. Oh yeah let's just shame this other person 'cause it's hard for him to defend himself in its fine. Who other person. That's such a straw man argument. I don't even know who you're talking about like yes. The policymakers are shamed. Yes the lobby. Esu push this. And try to convince. The policymakers not dow we're talking about not. But but i mean that's the idea of this campaign we're not talking about the person who works at the concrete firm like we're not talking about shaming those people we are talking about decision makers at the top who are explicitly trying to confuse delay. Well one thing. I would point folks to it and i haven't had a chance to listen to all of the episodes but amy westervelt. Did a good podcast. Her drilled series on sort of the madman of fossil fuels and the whole problem was means. And how how they do this messaging. And i think that's what we're getting at is the communications industry and and how influential they are. And how if we can put pressure on them that you know on them and on companies that are looking for services so i'll give you an example on the lobbying industry so my firm we have. We have a couple of things that we are very values based so by that we never take fossil fuel clients. We only work for clean clock. Clean energy clients innovative clients that we think are doing the right thing. And then we also Our offer expertise. Because i have a technology background so we offer this. You actually substantive expertise on connecting business and technology policy so we're out there selling ourselves in that way to clients that need that there are a lot of lobby shops. Out there in dc. That are very transactional. They will take money from anybody. Who will pay them for access to folks to do just series of meetings to help them spend money on polit political fundraisers that kind of thing and they don't care and some of those have clean tech clients and they also have. Api it just doesn't matter they don't they don't differentiate at all they are purely transactional and it is nothing to do with the business at. They're helping it is all to do with. Who is paying them to do what. So that is what you have to differentiate is. How do we separate out the people who are working on whatever they get paid to do versus those who are working on the things that we think are in our society important and this is why. I'm so passionate about it because i think you can change that like i think you can actually influence that kind of behavior. I mean that's what the banks were doing with fossil fuels like there's just pure financial calculus right and all of a sudden you have these other external factors and the social license issue that they need to think about which starts to influence the the ethics behind their investment decisions. So that's why i'm like. I think that you can change that. Yeah the only thing. I'm saying stephen. This in terms of correlation and causation so generate capital doesn't do anything with pie missions industries right. But the reason we don't do it we actually think they're terrible investments. That's why we don't do it. We don't think we're gonna actually have a licensed operate those assets for thirty years because of regulation that's coming in all the other things and and so that's why we don't make those investments and i think that's why most of the banks have stopped making those investments not because they got shamed into not making those investments. I think they stopped doing it. Because they're actually bad investments and were saying well bill mckibben and gets all the credit for it. And i'm like no. I actually think it's different. And the reason i bring it up so passionately is because i feel like we are spending effort from our best and brightest people and things that i don't think have the highest and best use of their effort. Right and so like for instance. The biden campaign said no money from lobbyists right fine but they didn't say you can't also bundle money so those people just bundled two million dollars into his campaign but they didn't personally give because their lobbyists and they still get all the access that they got for bundling right. They didn't say we don't want any money. That is even associated with you right. And so it's just one of those things where i feel like some of this is just on paper and is not really going to be what changes the world it's the actual deployment of technology and the fact that we're cost effective and all that stuff that's actually changing the world. So should i keep the exxon mobile podcasts and producing right now or not. How much are they paying you. Let's go to our third topic on the youth climate core. What if large numbers of young people and formerly incarcerated people could get decent paying jobs in forest restoration coastal resilience disaster preparedness. What if we could prioritize black and indigenous and other people of color for green work skills certification without people having to take out school loans. Some smart people think it's possible actually a lot of smart people think it's possible and we're talking about the youth climate core daniel moon check eshelman. Who has a background in workforce development recently wrote a fantastic piece about this with some very specific suggestions. It was in yale three sixty and he's by odin he's by no means the only one. The biden campaign talked about this on the campaign trail. As part of the climate policy platform and economic development platform the sanders campaign did the same thing and It's modeled after some historical programs created after the great depression under the kennedy administration to put young people to work helping preserve the natural environment and build infrastructure so edmund points out that the national park service has a maintenance backlog in the billions of dollars surveys show. The country has land suitable to plant sixty billion trees. There's a lot that could be done for forest restoration and coastal restoration and He's writing about it. Because this seems to be a priority for the incoming administration so when could it become a reality and what could climate core actually do catherine. What do you think about this idea. And where is it in the creation process. Yeah first of all. I think it's great. And i think it's totally doable. I spoke with an maura. connelly who Is with voices for national service. About what is this model. What is this national service model. And it's been around for decades right there is there is already an infrastructure of nonprofits and of communities. That have been doing this for a long long time. So could just use the existing infrastructure and scale it up very very quickly to do a lot of different things she said. You're there's this architecture that's been in place for three decades and ran right now. We're in a world where covert in. Climate are kind of together and people want to roll up their sleeves and get things done. So let's use that it's very it's very democratized in that. It's very community based so communities. Get to decide what they want to work on and where they need to put people to work. But it's out there it's been there. Americorps has been around for a while and senator. Chris coons rian americorps branch and started one as well. He's a democrat from delaware. Very good friends with president elect joe biden but also works in a very bipartisan way and he has even introduced Piece of legislation called the core act. And of course core has to stand for something which is cultivating in response to the pandemic through service. And this is completely bipartisan. This whole notion of national service is very bipartisan. The people that are on his bill and in fact a senator coons doesn't do anything really. If it's not bipartisan. He is very much about working across the aisle. He feels like he gets more. Sustainable solutions that way So marsha blackburn from tennessee. Who i would not describe as a liberal at all Is on it. Roger wicker Is is a very strong voice for this and believes very strongly national service and what you could do is take all this infrastructure that that exists. Scale it up very very quickly and get people to work on a number of things that are locally very beneficial that also happened to have climate mitigation calms so jigger. What should climate core members be doing. What is the kind of work that their best equipped to do and kind of work shouldn't be doing. Well think the first thing for us to recognize is that like we and this podcast of talked about this since our very first episode right this is basically bringing back the work progress administration. We talked about how obama failed to do this in the stimulus. Bill i think that like so part of this is that there are all these activities. That fdr had you know the civilian conservation corps. Do and other initiatives have done in the past that are really important right. These are like reversing erosion damage Or waterways like figuring out how to restore our national parks and hiking trails and a lot of this kind of stuff which ultimately through contractors and other stuff you know like kinda gets done gets done in ways that are ham handed and not necessarily with the amount of passion and and And expertise that you'd like to see I think the other piece of this. That i think people miss is that. There's a lot of people who don't really believe in the capitalist system that we've established in america and they actually like just working in service. And so i don't think this is really just about youth. It's also about people who are like. I don't really like the rat race. I don't really like you know having to like do this and the 401k and this and that and the whatever i'd like to just give back to my community and is there a way for people to pay me to just give back to my community into our country. And so i think this is super important. But i want people to think more expansively about how there are a percentage of people in this country who actually think that this is their best and highest use to civilization into our country and this is not just some steppingstone for two years like americorps has been or or other things have been for folks on a temporary basis. I think that we think a little bit too. Like through the lens of economists around recessions and and things like that when think about these programs and to me it's really more about There's there's a lot of work that needs to be done And and there's a lot of people who actually want to do it. Yes so diggers right. There's americorp there's also senior corps and they're over two hundred seventy five thousand americans right now. Serving and some of the impact of this is pretty significant so it it mentors. It helps communities respond from natural disasters. Certainly it. It helps fight. The opioid epidemic by putting people on the ground connects veterans to jobs and education resources that supports independent living for seniors and americans who have disabilities it helps families achieve economic self sufficiency and those members and workers gain skills and experience that then help them get out into the job market for more sustainable employment and the numbers are incredible on impact so for every dollar of federal funds invested the federal government alone gets dollars and fifty cents in return just from tax revenue. Gains in savings in the federal benefit cost ratio is that for every dollar and federal taxes spent on americorps and senior corps programs. And that doesn't even include. You know something specific to climate core. Which would you would wanna put a lot of money into The return to society program members and government is seventeen dollars and thirty cents so it is an incredibly cost effective Way to do things. It's a great way to get people on the ground. Learning new skills that are much more sustainable in nature and as jeter said you could put them to work restoring wetlands doing part cleanup habitat for humanity doing energy efficiency. There are just lots and lots of things that you can do. That will have positive climate outcomes that brings us to the point that daniel moon check made in his piece. Which is what shouldn't folks in the climate corby doing. And that is high. Skilled jobs like You know the electrical engineering or you know installing power lines or broadband. I mean they're gonna be doing a lot of more. Low skilled jobs like coastal restoration rebuilding building hiking trails or Maybe i don't know building sea walls or like more construction oriented I go ahead. i'd say it a little bit differently. Which is that i. I don't think it's about skill level. I think it's more about liability so like there are jobs that require something to actually work right if you're gonna do broadband to someone's house like the broadband access to work. If it doesn't work they actually need to be able to help be held accountable to it not working and someone has to go out and repair it. And so i think it's really more about this liability piece like you wanna give it to private sector. Companies if electrical engineering if done incorrectly could lead to loss of life or lack of like essential services or whatever And so. I think that's to me the designation. I think a lot of these could be very high skilled jobs. You can imagine like figuring out what's happening to bird populations figuring out what's happening to migratory populations like figuring out how to support a lot of these research efforts around species biodiversity loss and like there's a lot of really important things that need to be done Like counting butterflies. Like you know which we've been reducing populations air and bee populations and pollinators and all that stuff so. I think there's actually a tremendous amount of skilled work for these people to do long term. That frankly just isn't being done because the federal government doesn't think that paying people prevailing wage to do those particular jobs like is going to pass muster through the congress. I'm actually realizing now that. I really don't like this High-skill low skill differentiation. Because like i couldn't pour concrete seton hall. I could have so many things that were calling low skill work that like. I would have no idea how to do. And like somehow i've found a way to create a career about talking about things and editing digital tape so she'll work very very low skill. yes exactly So i think it's actually a really good point to now that i know that. I'm hearing this out loud. I don't really like that differentiation But wh you know the the the worry here is that you do. Give people these jobs for a couple of years. And they can't get into the workforce and like what about creating certification programs that allow them to build off of that work and then turn them in two jobs that have a longer term impact on their lives will. Yeah i think there's a lot of that. Infrastructure already exists in all those a lot of the services already exist for example. you know. they're they're already looking at these new online tools to allow some of the senior corps folks to move onto virtual in virtual mode. So i think Something like the core act that That senator coons and eighteen. Bipartisan cosponsors. have put forward. I think is a really good start doing some of this putting some of those processes in place that will enhance the the current infrastructure and allow people to do that to not only be able to access a lot of this service. Virtually which spokes are going to need to and also to allow them to then transition easily into other jobs. Yeah i i do. Think that in the two thousand nine stimulus bill. We actually put a lot of money into creating. All these certification programs for auditing energy efficiency. You know installing solar. I mean lots of things and so the curriculum already exists and then frankly because of the pandemic all of these curriculums have been moved onto the web and so you actually can do a lot of this stuff through streaming etc so you can imagine this actually being an essential part of the volunteering experience. If people want to partake in it right the they would just be offered for free for anybody who To join the services. I guess the final question is how should we. How could we be prioritizing black indigenous. People people of color as part of this program. Yeah and you can't you can't put some numbers on it so you could say which biden has done in his plan. To forty percent of the funds are going to go to frontline communities and that could mean a lot of things that could mean communities impacted by climate it could be environmental justice Areas or just transitionary is it could also include rural communities that are in dire economic straights. So i think you can put some numbers on it to make sure that the communities in the most need get those resources but remember this is all very community based so also the communities get to decide what they need and what is going to be most beneficial to them. It's that time of the show. It's free electrons. Catherine what are you obsessing over reading thinking about this week. Yeah we have talked about this a little bit. Before which is the replacement of gas generation with other technologies and gilkey known yes can sorry gilpin yoenis from naipaul at new york. Power authority reached out to me. Now knipe is. Us's largest state power organization. They own sixteen generators and fourteen hundred mile transmission. They are targeting twenty thirty five to eliminate emissions from gas plants which is huge includes not just their big natural gas fleet but also they're small peaker plants and they're going to be looking to pilot new technologies to buy trinity tobacco from that. So it's gonna be really interesting to see what happens you already about eighty percent renewable Because of a lot of the hydropower that they operate but they have some big gas plants. They've one hundred and thirty five. Megawatt flynn power plan on long island. Five hundred megawatt zeldon dual fuel plant in australia and other pa's But they're getting serious about this and by twenty thirty five. They're gonna cut all those missions. Jigger what is your free electron. So i'm gonna instead use a corny story. was floating around facebook. This week So there's a professor who basically asked every gave everybody a balloon Asked them to put their name on it. Inflated tie it throw it into like this common sort of small rim gave all of the kids. There was like two hundred people in class five minutes to find their balloon and nobody could really find their balloon in this group. And then said actually. I'll give you time now. Anybody just pick out whatever balloon you find and handed to the person that Whose names on it. And they were able to identify every balloon and give it to the person whose name was on it in less than five minutes. And i think it basically goes to show that like the this this whole pandemic rate and all the other things that we're doing i think everyone's trying to seek out their own personal happiness as opposed to necessarily trying to figure out how to help their neighbor. A lot of people are. And i do think that in helping each other we actually find our own happiness and i do think that that like that. Actually reverberates around. You know the the way that our culture in our country is fractured itself. And i think we have to really think through like how we can actually make things more efficient if we rely on. You know trying to help the next person as opposed to turn to help ourselves. It's interesting because i had a conversation At thanksgiving over zoom my brother who lives in appalachia and he said the divisions that the media seems to highlight just you. He lives in a place. That's very red But he said that. There's not a lot of animosity between people of all different political stripes. Everybody just has to work together to to get along and he just he said i just want to downplay this division because where i live in a part of the country that people highlight is being divisive. Really isn't so. I totally agree with you. The derangement syndrome is alive and well on the east and west coast. That's a really nice complimentary my story. I wanna give a shout out to nate adams who has been on this show before natives the house whisperer. He's really obsessed with You know deep home retrofits and residential electrification. And i think need has been a real thought leader in this space but this past year as part of the pandemic. He took his family and they went on the road and they've just been traveling all around and in the process visiting a lot of people who we might those of us on twitter might know as the energy and climate twitter ati and he has been helping them with frustration assessments Either like giving them explicit advice helping them with retrofits or or just sort of outlining what they could do with their homes and Nate has also during some dark times for me. Kept in touch with me and sent me well wishes and sort of Just been a really nice positive force Even from afar and i've been watching some of his visits and how like highly people speak of him and i just thought i just wanted to give him a shadow because he's kind of a delightful presence right now. So nate came to bethesda for like some sort of conference and i I met him out and We had a long conversation and he was like. I'm just gonna do it for myself. And i'm going to write this book and i'm gonna get this done and i'm going to just help whatever it is to clients a month in like it's going to change the world and i'm like I love your passion. Nate but like you do in two clients a month in ohio. I don't know is going to really change the world but go for it. I mean what a difference a year makes right. His book is out. it's extraordinary. He's like helping julia piper with her house and like she's like a lot of people have jumped onto the bandwagon and are making a difference in their own communities. And you know just goes to show how little i know yeah. People is showing pictures of their foam insulation installations. And saying. did i do it right nate. I love that. I mean i think he's going to prove that like the the efficiency one point which is a little bit of weatherization you know maybe like some new digital technologies like. That's not enough and you can actually save way more money and build more effective programs by doing much deeper retrofits and replacing equipment and and these these sort of whole home retrofits. That he is doing are much more effective. So i just think he's a good force in the industry right now and keep doing what you're doing. The other one is. I have to justice morning thursday morning. We dropped a podcast with google. We've been working on for the last nine months. It's called once the internet lives. And it's a six part series on the world of data centers. And i think all data center operators are super secretive about what goes on inside their facilities or or can appear that they're super secretive because no one's allowed inside them. And so what we were able to do alongside The folks at google was to really open up that world and get a sense for how the machines were how the buildings are constructed and for folks who listen to this podcast who may be in the business world and infrastructure nerds it. I think it will really appeal to a lot of the things that we cover on. This show and one episode in particular is about how google is actually implementing inside. Its data center is an externally the twenty four seven low-carbon goal and that is actually matching every electron with every bit and bite processed inside its data centers with low carbon electricity. And so we actually detail all the different ways that they're going to be able to do that looking at kind of the historical learnings all the way to now and into the future. We'll be published hanzal episode next week as part of an agreement. So we're going to be. We're gonna be cross posting. One of those episodes. People can actually hear that twenty four seven low-carbon episode and there's a bunch more content to offer them trail. And i been good friends for a long time and i'm just glad to see a lot of the the hard work that they've been doing really coming to light. Well we have one more week together before the end of the year. So i look forward to that nets gonna wrap up this week. Show the energy. Gang is a co production of postscript audio in green tech media and gridlock is our senior editor catherine hamilton jigger shah are my regular co hosts. If you wanna show your support and help us grow. Give us a rating and review an apple. Podcasts send out your raps. Twenty twenty year in review on spotify and social media. Tell a friend or a colleague about the podcast and we're still taking ideas for our end of year episode so message us on twitter. There's actually a tweet. At the top of the energy gang page you can respond to and we are going to incorporate a ton of listener questions about the top stories of the year next week. Thanks for listening. This is the energy gang weekly debates and discussions on the fast changing world of energy. Talk to you soon.

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