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tv   World Resources Institute Climate Change Discussions  CSPAN  April 13, 2019 3:57am-5:55am EDT

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behind the scene winners online at house climate crisis committee chair kathy castor explained the new committee's goals during this world resources institute event earlier this week. then climate advocacy officials discussed the future of climate change policy into the next decade. this is nearly two hours. is wasd resources institute. good afternoon and thank you for attending the forum on reenergizing climate action good afternoon and thank you forn attending the forum on
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reenergizing climate action on capitol hill. by the way, if you were looking for a discussion on clinical symptoms of psychological disorders, you're in the wrong room,e or maybe not. my name is dan lashof. i am the u.s. director for world resources institute. i'm just going to give a few minutes of introduction and framing remarks to today's discussion before turning the stage over to amy harder of axios, who will be interviewing kathyy castor, chair of the houe select committee on the climate crisis, followed by a discussion with carla sc-- carlos curbelo, thee first republican in a decae to introduce a bill to seriously attack climate change. after these opening conversations, we will turn to a panel discussion focusing on what it will take to decarbonize the power sector. f
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i want to thank chair castor, representative curbelo, and our panel t for joining us today. really appreciate it. we do plan to have some additional fora in the future that will touch on additional topics such t as transportation infrastructure, and managing the transition for workers and communities. we'll plan to bringo in additional perspectives as we do that. so stayr tuned for future announcements. for those of you who are not familiar with worldh resources institute, we are a nonpartisan, global policy research and innovation institute on a mission tome foster change that protects earth's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future we work on seven global challenges, all of which link back directly or indirectly to thee topic we're here to discus today.
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our approach is grounded in science and data. we help policymakers from all parties develop and implement innovativet solutions and communicate our ideas to decisionag makers and the publi. change it. and we leverage partnerships to spread approaches that work. scale it. in the united states, wri is particularly focused on making progress against climate change by working with business, cities, states, and the federal government and encouraging them to act at all of these levels in ways that support and complement eachch other. here inside the beltway, it's forget the sy to critical role played by these subnational actors. but an analysis done by wri last year for america's pledge showed that implementing their commitments would leadn to abou
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17% reduction in u.s. emissionser by 2025 with no further action from washington.e with deeper and broader commitments, we could see reductions of as much as 24%, which is within striking distance of the pledge thehe united states made as part of the paris and in some good news, in recent months we have seen in fact exciting developments at the subnational a growing number of states have set ambitious clean electricity targets, such asen 50% by 2030 100% by 2050 or even earlier. carbon pricing is expanding to states and more sectors, and states are cooperating more intensively through the u.s. climater alliance, which has grown to over 23 governors who are committed to the goals of paris agreement. they now represent about 50% of the u.s. population and more than 60% of our gdp.
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at the federal level, climate change has re-emerge the as a top priority on capitol hill, and the conversation has matured from weather to take action to how. the emergence of the green new deal has inspired unprecedented activism and sparked a lively debate about the future of climate action in congress in the context of economic and social equity. in addition to the broad goals and principles enunciated in the green new deal resolution, we're also seeing more and more concrete legislative proposals, including two carbon pricing bills sponsored by representative curbelo, who we'll hear fromnc shortly, as wl as his fellow florida republican,to frances rooney. representative castor is the primary sponsor of h.r. 9 which focuses on keeping the united
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states in the paris agreement and meeting our commitments and holding other countries accountable. on the senate pside, lamar alexander has proposed a new manhattan project focused on energy r&d. and senator smith plans to introduce an ambitious clean energy standardly bill shortly. we've also seen cap and dividend proposal and discussion of a trillionon dollar climate-smart infrastructure reflecting on all this activity, representative paul tonko recently said,es let a thousand climate proposals bloom, andnd that really captures where we are right now. there is a hunger for solutions to the climate crisis and how to realize them, and that's what we're here to talk about today. so, again, thanks for coming. there are a a few more seats he in the middle if people want to slide in. now, wean do want to keep today conversation interactive. so while we don't want you to check email on your phones, we do want you to take them out now and take part in a quick poll on
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this platform we're also going to be using this platform for asking questions to the panelist. so if you go to ano type in event code 350, we're going to have this poll. so here's the question. by when should the united states aim to achieve a zero carbon electricity sector? o and you'll see options for your answers there, and the results are coming in. i don't know if i can see how many people have replied. i'll give people a minute to get there. okay. interesting. this is a pretty ambitious group with byy 2030, having the plurality of votes, although nobody has a majority.
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it's sort of like the brexit situation. so this is obviously a key question and we'll be delving into it more deeply in the panel.l. now it's my great honor to introduce our featured speaker, representative kathy castor. she is serving in her seventh term, representing florida'sin 14th congressional district, which includes tampa and parts of hillsboro county. castor is a national leader on clean energy, environmental justice, and coastal protection. she was recently appointed to chair the select committee on the climate crisis, which held its t first hearing last week. i'm also very thankful to amy harder for moderating the decision amy is one of the top journalists in the country on energygy and climate issues. she is widely respected across the political spectrum as a uniquely balanced and influential voice. she c covers climate and energy issues in news stories and as part of a regular column for
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axios called "harder line." so without further ado, please welcome amy harder and kathy castor. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> well, good afternoon, everybody. it's great to be here. m and thank you, congresswoman, for taking the time to be here. i think thisc might be one of te first, if not the first, sort or public appearance since you've been u chairwoman of the committee. so thank you for that. you certainly have a tough job. you're leading a select committee that has no subpoena power, no legislative power, which leads to criticism that mainly just for messaging and 2020 political purposes. democrats leading the permanent committees are a little bit -- getting a little bit bigfooting over the jurisdiction issues. loudest democrats and progressive activists don't think you're doing enough. theli loudest republicans think that climate change isn't a
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problem. while i do acknowledge that republicans are shifting, there's still a lot on capitol hill who are talking on other issues on this issue. so how do you break through all of that noise and try to make a tangible difference with the select committee? well, thank you. good afternoon, everyone. thank you to wri for hosting this discussion. yes, this is my first public appearance as chair of the climate crisis committee. and, amy, i want to thank you. i tune in to your axios energy report every morning, and it's quite enlightening. you have quite a broad jurisdiction yourself. but thank you. >> we also face criticism. >> so speaker pelosi, whose flagship issuehe has always bee to the change going back time when she held the gavel the first go-around -- she knew at the outset of this new congress
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that we didn't have any time to waste. and while the h standing committees, each of them have an important role to play in developing the policy proposals and holding the hearings on the climate, we intend for the climate crisis select committee to be the one that is kind of the umbrella that helps keep track of what's going on in the congress and helps build the narrative for h ambitious actio. we had our first hearing last week, y and we went right to generation climate. the young people who are really at theirn wits' end, shaking th fist at washington, saying, come on, the planet is burning. what are you going to do about e it? so we had four young people who are leadersli in the climate movement to come to capitol hill. it was a little different from
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your typical congressional committee hearing, always a much older demographic and not quite as diverse. but we wanted our first panel to reflect the generation that is going to bear the cost, that's going to bear the burden and really find the solutions. the charge, the specific charge of the select committee is one year fromme now to issue a repo to the congress and to the american people that summarizes the bold action plan for climate, to push the other committees in the congress to do what we can do now to reduce carbon pollution and begin the mitigation and adaptation policies, but really we anticipate the bolder action may have to wait for the next president. >> so a reminder for those joining in on the live stream and here in the audience. please be thinking of questions and signing on to slido to ask
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questions for both the congresswoman and for curbelo, which i'll get to later. so i'll be checking my phone. i won't be checking my email although reporters can multi-task, so i might be. so please be thinking about that as well. so you've had one hearing, and you'vedi talked about the plan hold more hearings, including a series of field hearings. what's going to draw you to certain locations? what's going tot bring you ther? some criticism has been that it's just going to be a prop for theo 2020 presidential candidats among democrats. can you respond to that? >> the field hearings that we will have will be p solution-oriented. yes, we will do some highlighting of the peproblem, t the science is in, right? we don't have to spend a lot of time on "is climate change happening?" what we needon to spend time on are the solutions to reduce carbon pollution and begin to build more resilient
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communities, and how we get resources back home to our communities to do just that. so look for us to see the cutting-edge work going on in wind power across the country. where do you all think we should go in. >> is that going to be iowa maybe? >> it could be, but anyone going to iowa these days is suspect, and we don't want that to happen. >> so maybe texas. >> probably both. i mean they're in the forefront. i can't believe -- and it's reflected in the dialogue i hear from my colleagues from texas. i've served on the energy and commercial committee for a number of years, and they used to never talk about wind power and renewable energy. but i hear them talking a whole lot more about it these days. >> so as the poll question indicated, there's a pretty raging debate about the pace and intensity of the world's and america's lower carbon energy transition. a lot of the independent experts say that some of the goals laid
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out in what we know about the green new deal are somewhat unrealistic. for example, there's a debate about to what degree nuclear power should be included in this. where do you come in on that? do you think that some of the plants right now that are at risk of shutting down -- do you think those should -- should there be an effort to keep those open in order to get us closer to these zero carbon goals? >> this is i going to be an iss that we examine. i think it's clear right now that nuclear power is a carbon-free source, and we need to maintain the plants we have online in a safe fashion. if you go back to the state of florida in my neighborhood, we had a nuclear plant in crystal rivery where the electric utily wanted to update it. and they actually went to ratepayers and saids we're goin to pass an advance recovery fee, so ratepayers, you're going to
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pay in advance for us to fix our nuclear d power plant. it was florida power and then duke energy. they broke the plant, and ratepayers ended up on the hook for millions and millions and millions of dollars without one kilowatt hour of energy being produced. so something tells me, boy, that would have been money better spent in building solar power, where wee have the most potentil in the sunshine state, or doing some more on energy efficiency and things like that. so it's going to be a balance. we're going to look at all that. >>ns would you consider holding hearing, for example, in pennsylvania, where there's a big debate now, or perhaps in ohio where there's debates right now at the state legislatures whether or not to keep open some of thosee plants? >> we're going to have to investigate those, and we're going to have to take these issues head-on. and we're going to need everyone's help. there are some very significant issues ondd communities that wi bebe impacted, and part of trul addressing the climate crisis is
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going to be a just transition for many of the communities that are fossil fuel-based. what will happen? and we don't have a lot of time this.te on we've got to figure these things out and figure out how we make that just transition. >> i think this audience is pretty well informed on some of these controversial technologies, nuclear power being one of them. the otherer one is carbon captu and storage, where you essentially capture carbon from the smokestacks of a coal plant or even something like an ethanol plant.fno you know, i think there's in this room probably a debate about whether or not those should be part of the sleutolut? is that something you think is important, or do you think that's a way to further the fossil fuell age, which is the it? criticism of >> it's got to be a balance. also in my neck of the woods, we have a coal-fired power plant. if i walk out onto tampa bay, thear bayshore boulevard, and i look k across the bay, there's r
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big tampa electric now owned by amira, coal-fired power plant. they've recently announced they're going to shut down two of the four coal-fired engines and go to combined cycle and put in a lot more frack gas.ik but, yes, on the one hand, that certainly seemsos like they are just guaranteeing that fossil fuels burn well on into the future, and it would seem a better, much more cost-effective program, again, for us to double down on clean, renewable energy. but all of those things are going to have to be brought into balance, and they're going to have to be brought in debate. i think the role of the select committee right now today is not to draw those bright lines and to make hard and fast declarations, but we don't have time to waste really when you look at the ipcc report said
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reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. and this audience says we better do a whole lot better than that. >> what would you vote for, ev congresswoman, or perhaps you did vote, but can you share with us how you voted? >> we've got to be as aggressive as possible. >> so are you closer to 2030 or 2050? >> we need to be as ambitious as possible, and that's largely what we'll be looking at over the next year until we write our report. and in thedm meantime, pressing for the trump administration to doav better. and thankfully we've had a lot of states and local communities and businesses and academic centers that have been inle the lead now. but it is long past time for the united states federal government to have a bold plan of action.>> >> and a reminder to those asking questions on slido. you can also vote for questions that you like that perhaps you didn't ask for.
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so this is very much a democracy, and we encourage you to vote.. one question that i'm seeing come up, that i also wanted to ask about, you know, given there's a drive to have urgent action, what's some type of legislation or policy that you could consider in your committee that could have an impact today, that could help -- >> you know, there's a whole bunch of low-hanging fruit. one is staying on track with fuel economy standards for our vehicles. that's something that even the automobile manufacturers didn't ask for for the trump administration just to throw all of that out the window. i think consumers are hungry for those solutions, and we've got to, i think, begin a much more aggressive plan for the transition to clean electric vehicles. make sure that states and local communities are planning for infrastructure deployment. make sure that america keeps its
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edge in the world as the leader in how we manufacture modern cars. it goes for all vehicles, and to an ly we'll get infrastructure webill. speaker pelosi and the democratic caucus very high on rebuilding america, and a large portion of that will be devoted to -- if the trump administration republicans agree that we should pay for things in america -- again, a big portion of that will be planning for electric vehicles, transit, and hopefully building the modern grid across the country. >> so thatt brings me to one question that has a whopping seven votes, which is the most at this moment. so i'm going to go ahead and ask it, which is that decarbonization is not only about electricity. of course it's also about industry and transportation. and quickly i have a question for thoseve of you in the audience. raise your hand if you drive an electric car. okay. raise yourri hand if you drive
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gasoline-powered car or hybrid. and raise your hand if you don't drive a car at that's pretty -- so for those of you on the live stream, i would say the no cars crowd wins it, which i a think is surprising a also a reminder of the bubbles that we all live in. so i live here in washington, d.c. i don't have a car. if i had a third hand, i would have raised it. but i grew upp in a tiny little town in a cattle ranch in eastern washington state, where i droveveke everywhere. so i have a keen awareness of the impacts of gasoline and things like that. so, congresswoman, what are your thoughts about greening the transportation and industry sections without, you know, causing too high gasoline prices and other costs that consumers are concerned about? >> i think this is very exciting. in our lifetimes, we will see a major transition in the vehicles
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that well drive. boy, we could really spur it on with some federal policies, whether it's tax credits or like we talked about, the infrastructure deployment. also keeping the pressure on, on fuel economy standards. the transition will not happen as rapidly unless we do all of those things. and local communities. and i think the younger generation now, they will be my age, and life will be entirely different on how they get around. of course one of the major problems also is air travel. we're going to have to look and make sure we're pouring additional n dollars into r&d a all levels in the transportation sector and in the electricity sector as well. i think that's another one of the flow-hanging fruit pieces
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that this congress certainly can tackle. i mean our national labs are the best. they have the most cutting-edge research across the globe, but p don't think we've done a very good job taking that research and deploying it. and we're goingav to have to invest more money to make sure that happens. >> we're going to be hearing in a moment from former congressman curbelo to give us some insight into thess republican mind on ts issue. how important do you think bipartisanship is to achieving big climate policy? i did a column recently that show pointed to some forthcoming research that shows very little big policy gets through washington without bipartisan support. two recent examples were the tax cuts and obamacare. most of theam time you need bipartisan support even ait lite bit. so do you think you can get big climate policy through without republican support? and if yout do, how do you expet that to happen? and if you don't, how do you hope to get republicans onboard? >> i agree with you.
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if you're going to have legislation, new law at the scale that we need to really tackle the crisis, we've got to aim to be as bipartisan as possible. and, yeah, i've i been around he long enough to know that is -- that's a tall order. but i'm heartened by the fact when you look at opinion surveys across the country, it is fairly bipartisan that they want bold solutions and it seems like my republican friends are -- they're not reflecting political will. and certainly having the president, the denier in chief in the white house is no help at all, but that will come around. that will come around shortly.n and i think we -- i hear a lot of bipartisan discussion on adaptation, a mitigation. boy, the costs are really adding
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up. carlos and i, you know, we come from the state of florida, and people now, it's sinking in their property insurance is higher. their flood insurance is higher. their electric bills are higher because summers are longer and hotter.reeo so much of these costs are adding up, and people are saying, well, wait a minute. if i had some of this to invest some clean energy technologies, heck, if i had a little tax credit to put solar panels on the roof and have my neighbors join in and help me, this could go a long way. so i don't think we're at the tipping point with the republicans in congress right s now, but i think -- and i'm very hopeful we can get there. maybe it's a matter of, okay, what doo you all need for adaptation and mitigation in your communities to make that transition to the clean energy jobs of the future and make sure
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they're brought in early, and we're going to tryil to do that brings me to my question about the relationships you're cultivating on capitol hill with this g issue. have you found any common ground with congressman graves, the ranking republican on your committee? adaptation, i understand, is one issue, him hailing from louisiana, it's an important issue. aren you hopeful for bipartisan conversations there? >> yes, yes. >> a little bit better than the first committee. i know there was not so much of that. >> yeah. i am. i don't know ranking member garret graves from louisiana very well, but we're going to be spending a lot of time together and get to know each other. we certainly have districts that face similar issues with coastal -- you know, he has more wetlands loss out of his district. coastal louisiana, baton rouge, new orleans, than just about anywhere if that doesn't drive you to the
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negotiating tableha to find comn ground, i don't know what will. >> what kind of conversations haveat you had with congresswom alexandria ocasio-cortez about the green new deal? >> well, i was really hoping that shebo was going to come on the committee. we haven't talked a lot about policy. it was more about i was hoping she'd come onto thein committee. and then after the speaker appointed to financial services and then oversight, that she really did feel like she had her hands full with that. but all of the democrats in the caucus are interested in bold solutions. i think we are united. already on h.r. 9, talking about more low-hanging fruit, but an important statement of our values. hr-9 is the climate action now act that i filed a couple weeks ago that simply says america is going to keep its commitment that we made in the paris climate agreement, that we'reot
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not going too cut and run. we're not going to break promises. america is going to iremain in thatat pact and demonstrate som international leadership. we have almost 200 co-sponsors so far. i wish we had some republican co-sponsors. i think we'll get some votes, and i hope you all will encourage your members of congress to support that. it was passed out of the energy and commerce committee last week on thursday, and it's being marked up in the foreign affairs committee tomorrow. and then will likely come to the floor before april is out. >> do you plan on holding a green new deal?rs >> well, the select committee on the climate crisis is, in essence, theee committee that wl put meat on the bones of the bold and ambitious climate policies. >> is that the green new deal? >> it will be limited likely to
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energy policy and the just transition. some of the other things in the green new deal are probably outside of t our purview, but ts is goingit to be very ambitious. and we will -- i can already predict thator the work product from the select committee that will come out a year from now will have very aggressive goals. >> do you think the green new deal should not include things like the federal jobs guarantee and universal health care? >> i think those are important value f statements for what the intended. those are not going to be the primary issues in the select committee's report ultimately. >> one question here that has 15 votes, we're not doing a very good job participating, so a democracy, you have to vote. this is another plea to vote. given the united states historical culpability in the climate crisis, what do you believe is our nation's role in
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helping gresettle climate refugees? >> oh, that's a good question. i hope we can get into examining that. i mean look. around the world right ornow. we have -- we're in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since after world war ii, whether you're talking about europe or africa or right on our doorstep out of central america. gosh, we need a sane immigration policy for one but i think the united states has always been a leader despite this kind of blip on the screen with this administration that's there now. america will continue toor lead the world and work with our allies on these things. >> how o do you hope to do thin like that in the face of the trump administration? >> well, like i gave out before, kudos to all of the states, local n governments, ngos, the students who are actively protesting for change. thank you to everyone who has
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taken up the slack while leadership here at the federal level has hit the pause button. but we will -- we'll be -- really we cannot tackle the climate crisis unless we have consistent policy coming from the federal level, but one that iste based upon all of your opinions and input from all of the stakeholders, and based on science. we have the fourth climate t assessment. we have thert latest ipcc repor. that gives us the goals and the framework we need. now we've got to get busy on crafting those ambitious policies. >> one last audience question. what are your thoughts on carbon removal, this idea that you take carbon out of the air as opposed to right at a smokestack. that's really gaining attack in the wonky circles that i think all of us livee in. i've likened it to liposuction for the planet. it's a little bit icky, but it actually drives home the point. do youop think this is part of e
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solution? >> boy,os i hope we can develop? innovative technology along those lines. certainly we're going to be investing more in research and development. whether that is the best place to putrs it or whether that is something that the private entrepreneurs will lead, that's probably the case for now that the private sector will lead on that. but america is the largest funder of basic science. a all of that feeds into technological advances and innovation, and we have to keep those commitments for >> great. and i have one last lightning round question, and this is something i'll be asking everybody else who is coming up onstage. so you guys have a head start oe how you'll answer it. but, congresswoman, make the following prediction. yes or no? in five years, congress will passed a major climate policy. >> yes. [ applause ] >> thank you so much for your time.
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>> i would invite former congressman curbelo to the stage. thank heyou, congresswoman for your time. we look forward to hearing more about the field hearings. congressman curbelo, thank you so much for your time here as well. dan gave us a brief bio, but as a reminder, he was the author of the first big carbon tax climate policy bill introduced by a republican in a decade. he's also founded the bipartisan climate solutions caucus. he lost his race last year. i would argue that it was due to a lot of other issues. but if you ask those people who hate carbon taxes, they will quicklyut attribute it to that. one thingic i remember about hi race that was -- just shows the upside down nature of politics is a republican group funded an advertising that said that his
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democratic opponent was getting dirty coal money. so just try to think about that a littlepp bit. it l shows the importance of climate change andon environmenl issues to the congressman's district, which is of course the tip m of florida, miami. so you're definitely on the leading edge of republican thinking on ngthis.. but the caucus is mostly not with you, or at least publicly. can you tell us obviously without violating private conversations, we would love to get an inside look at what you're hearing and where the republican caucus is on these issues. >> so thank you first of all, h amy, for this opportunity. and i want to thank wri for having me. i know kathy's gone, but i'll just say that being from florida, it is wonderful that we have a floridian. i thinkha it's wonderful and appropriate that we have a floridian chairing this select committee. amy, i think we are light years away from where we were at the end of the last congress. and i knew the last congress
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very well, did a lot of work on this issue. as you noted, i filed a carbon pricing bill and built out the climate solutions caucus to havf 45 republicans and 45 democrats. despite all of those successes, a lot of republicans were still getting to the point where they were acknowledging the threat, the t seriousness of the issue, which is important. what you're seeing now is that thend evolution has continued, d republicans are starting to not just talk about solutions, but a few of them, as we saw earlier, have actually proposed solutions. now, i understand for those of us who get how urgent and important this is, we're impatient. we might still be frustrated. but thinking about congress and the way congress typically functions and evolves, this is actually significant. and, again, we are in a much
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better place today than we were just a few weeks ago. so i think you're going to see over the coming months more and more republicans take risks, so to speak, on this issue because, of course, the greatest fear that any member of congress has is to have a serious primary challenge. so when i say take risk, i mean political risk, because in a lot of these very conservative districts, it's hard to -- for those that are exclusively concerned about re-election, it's a hard to take these steps. but you have some leading indicators, peoplepe like lamar alexander, like matt gaetz, who is in the most conservative florida district and is leading way on this issue. so, again, i think it's hard to say where exactly the conference is today, but i think it's very easy and obvious to say that the conference isti moving in the
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right direction. >> the emerging republican position on this issue is to support innovation. f we saw that from congressman gaetz as well with his green real deal, i think is what he called it. and senator alexander, also innovation was the key term. when we hear that word, i mean innovation doesn't just fall from the sky. you need money or market economists many would argue both. do you think innovation by itself is enough to make the difference with climate change that you think there should be? >> i don't. but i do think that these republican proposals -- number one, when they talk about innovation and r&d, that obviously means the public, the federal government, has to spend resources, invest in mitigating climate change. s again, this is significant for house and senate republicans. but i think what's most relevant
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is that you can kind of see the beginningsgs of what a bipartis agreements would look like. andre republicans that are real owning this innovation can describe thatcr as a win in a potential bipartisan agreement. and, of course, you know, on the other side of that, there might be carbon pricing or other policies that will help perhaps research and development, and it could be a fiscally responsible bill as well. so innovation alone is not enough. some of the proposals you're'r seeing on there far left are no realistic. they're just not plausible. where we meet in the middle, i think, is what matters most. >> as a reminder to the audience and those joining online, please be thinking of questions and logging into the website and also vote for questions.
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we have very few votes, so encouraging good democracy. congressman, you just made a comment about far-left policies. do you mean the green new deal? >> well, certainly. and by the way, the green new deal is not a plan to reduce carbon l emissions. it's a liberal vision for our country's economy with climate policyit as an accessory. now, the great value in the green new deal, the great contribution it has made, is that it has elevated this issue, and everyone is talking about it. the other great contribution it has made is that if you know congressional republicans well, you know c that they must alway have something that they can oppose. and the green new deal is certainly made for congressional republicans to oppose. the good news is that after a republican expresses opposition to thehe green new deal, the ne question from, you know, good reporters like you is, okay,
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what are you for? and that's what republicans are in search of. now, the fact that they're searching for that -- and some of them have already foundy some answers -- is very good news and an indicator that we are approaching or at least moving towards aa bipartisan solution. >> a lot of the questions here and a lot of the support for questions on here look at sort of what's behind this historical, for at least a decade opposition from republicans. what do you think it is, congressman? do you think it's ideology? do you think it's the fact that any climateac solution requires some sort of larger government role? is it, as this person asks, quote, the millions of dollars theue fossil fuel energy has invested into stifling the debate? what is it that's preventing, you know, republicans? and another thing, you know, sort of putting on my devil's advocate hat for this event.
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there are concerns about higher cost of energy, which i think is a legitimate question, but there's a lot of other issues at the play here including lobbying influence. how are things going to change to release that opposition? >> so i have my theory. decades ago, this question of environmental policy was generally a scientific or an issue of science, and it, over time, became a question of culture. and i believe that this started in the wake of the 2000 election, which at the time was the most contentious in our country's history. not anymore. and after that election, former vice president goreac became th face of the environmental movement. he also made a number of predictions that, you know, didn't pan out, and i really
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wish -- number one, i don't criticize the former vice president for his work on the issue.en i think that's very noble and should bee applauded. i wish that when he embarked on that journey, he would have done it with a republican partner because this issue is just too important for anyonen to try t own entirely. you really have to share it if you want good policy. so after that election, i think a lotnk of republicans reached e conclusion that if al gore is for something, we must certainly all oppose it. and over the years, many different interest a groups, of course, haveor reinforced that idea. and that's how we got to the point where we were three or four years ago, which i really thinkk was rock bottom. when i got to congress, there were maybe three or four house republicans who were willing to even say the words "climate change." and we started the process of depoliticizing or undoing the
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polarization that had resulted and that i think was born out of vice president gore's activism, which, ooagain, i don't critici. i just think it offers a good explanation for how we ended up in such an unfortunate place. >> a good follow-up to that question is a question here from the audience. how are republicans going q to credibly change their messageman climate change when they've campaigned for decades on bad-faith arguments? i just want to piggyback on that to offer my own twisted version of that question, which is, youo know, if your goal is to address climate change, do you want to try to demonize a party, or do you want to try to work with whoever you can? how dola you balance that with,s this, attendee said, with a history of not i having good fah on this issue? >> so that's a good question, and i think for at least some republicans, theyro probably
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cannot turn back because they've made some pretty definitive statements over the years. but when i read the op-ed by ranking member walden, former chairman upton, and i dreguess former chairman walden too and representative shimkus, i said, well, here's an obvious example that at least one of those three kind of reversing the position that they had held a decade ago in the midst of the cap in trade debate. so for somee it will be difficut orng impossible. the good news is that -- and i think you're saying the same, amy. the younger -- or not younger -- newer republicans in the congressis don't have a long history of votes and statements on this issue, and they are more free to adopt responsible
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positions. and i think you've seen that over the last few months with congressman anthony gonzalez of ohio, who made, i think, some very positive statements in the committee. congressman waltz of florida and others. so some of this will be the product of new republicans coming into the congress becaust this divide is in many ways generational. we see that in polling. a lot of young republicans, millennial republicans, gen x republicans believe we need to act on climate. >> so one question that i'm seeing sort of permeate throughout the questions here online that i also have on my list is, you know, this separation between acknowledging climate change is real, it's a problem, something should be done, supporting the broad idea of innovation, but very few republicans are supporting carbon pricing. my conversations both on and off the record with republicans and
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their staffers, that's just too far for them. so i guess one question for you really quickly is to confirm you dois think carbon pricing is an essential part of the equation. and if yes, then why do you think these members are not going to support that, or do you think they'll change their positions? >> ihe think carbon pricing is national component of any bipartisan agreement. so i can understand why a lot of republicans, who i know from conversations are comfortable or at least open to the idea of carbon pricing, why they don't want to adopt that position now because that is a potential tradeoff with democrats. and, hyagain, if you want to bud a fiscally responsible bill, which theoretically is a priority for republicans, carbon pricing is a wonderful pay for and an appropriate payve for, which gives you a double benefit, right? the revenue and the accelerated
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reduction in carbon emissions. so i don't expect there to be a rush of republicans to carbon pricing, but i do think it's a component that many republicans could support as part of a compromise because it is a market-based approach that recognizes a real cost in the economy, and assigns a price to it, and theno trusts american consumers to do the rest of the work. by the way, another major concern and legitimate concern for republicans is, well, when we sign all these agreements, we actuallyor keep our word, and other countries don't. and that puts our economy at a disadvantage. well, carbon pricing with a border adjustment element doesn't require you to trust anyone because i can guarantee you that the chinese and the indians and everyone else is going to want to continue doing business with our nucountry. and if you a adjust for carbon pricing at the border, they
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will -- it will be months before they adopt their own carbon pricing schemes to be at parity with the united states. so i just think even if a lot of republicans don't embrace it immediately, it's a policy solution that many of them will be comfortable with. >> another quick question for those of youou here in the ri audience, raise your hand if you think carbonn pricing should at least be f part of the solutiono addressing climate change? i think. that's the biggest majority we've had so far. so economists love carbon prices. this roomuc does. you do, congressman. but the public doesn't so much. at least that's the evidence recently. we saw washington state, my home state, a very blue state -- most of it anyway -- and they voted down a proposal there. that's for a lotth of reasons. one, big oil poured $30 million into fighting it. but nonetheless, my anecdotal evidence, meaning talking to my
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family, who they acknowledge climate change is real and are concerned about anit. a but my sister drives 80 miles to work and she'sed concerned abou gasolinene prices. so how do you address these concerns by people who have to drive cars? tce again, we all live in a bubble, and we should realize that. how do you address these concerns because i think at the very heart of h it, addressing climate change wille inherently have to cause some sort of increase in prices. so how do you address that? >> so i think what a lot of voters want is fairness, and they want toy make sure that they're not going to be taken advantage of. we put a lot of thought into this as i was working on my legislation. it took about a year to produce. and we specifically thought about people like your sister, which is not -- didn't come naturally to me because i represented a fairly urban area. but we know that americans who live in rural parts of the
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country cannot afford the fuel-efficient vehicles that a lot of people in urban areas can, and they have to drive more because they live in rural parts of the country. so what we did in our bill was we repealed the gasoline tax as a way to say, yeah, we want to be we're not going to double-tax some of the lowest income peoplo in our country. and that t was a way to show fairness or to be fair. there are other proposals out there to just return all of the revenues in the form of a dividend. i think that's transparent, honest, simple to understand. i don't know how popular it will be in congress because members of congresson like to spend monr and if it just comes in and out, that's no fun. that's like e social security, right? there's no --t nothing exciting about that. but i do think it's another, you know, fair proposal. we also took care of pretty much everyone in the coal industry in
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our legislation because it's true, and sometimes people on the left come off sounding really insensitive like, oh, yeah, well, we got to get rid os coal. you know, there are a lot of people and families and towns that depend on coal. and that kind of speech really is counterproductive if you want to get closer to a solution. so i think that any bill should not be characterized or defined by the pricing component. soil i always told people my bi is an infrastructure bill. it's a tax reform bill. and it's revenue-neutral. it doesn't add to the deficit because weer price carbon. and, again, i mean this is not a bill that was seriously considered by either chamber, but i think it puts on the shelf something that people can look back to and draw from. >> one last quick question from
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the audience. you know, republicans -- there's a political question. so how will we overcome the real risk of being the risk of being primary. nobody can expect members to take a suicide mission. how do you blend the politics of what you face in the primaries, but having less bipartisanship in congress. >> reporter: the bottom line is, you have to lead. you have to on the issues. you have to get out in front of them. you do have to ask lane to people that this is increasingly a local issue. whether you are a farmer or a coastal community, this is a local issue. it will affect people in their everyday lives. you go out there and ask lane that people. in south florida, it is easier, because we are so at risk. the city of miami beach has
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pump systems, at a cost of $500 million. miami did a $200 million bond issuance to deal with title flooding and other sea level rise challenges. these are the things that appoint you to show that this is not a debate in theory, this is a problem we face as a society. we do have to take action. of course, that action should be fair and reasonable. it must be bipartisan. >> this is my last question for you. your prediction, yes or no, will we has big climate policy in the next few years?:yes, i'll tell you why, every factor in force that influences this debate and discussion is pushing in the right direction. whether it is the media, and
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the growing coverage of this issue. i was on meet the press last year, it was the first sunday morning show that was entirely dedicated to this issue. you're changing politics. many younger voters are demanding action, both republican, democrat, and independence. you have forces within congress, people reaching out to each other, and having conversations. g of course, you have the real- life effects of climate change that are waking people up. f every single factor you can imagine, with the exception of the white house, is pushing in the right direction. i will tell you, when i was in congress, the last 2 years, many of the president's comments , and actions, pushed republicans to join the climate
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solutions caucus. they did not want to be identified with those types of comments and policy proposals. even that, inadvertently ended up helping us in our mission. >> i want to say thank you, and invite the panelists to get this set up. [ applause ] thank you. [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> thank you gentlemen. thank oyou for tuning in a line, and those in the room for sticking around. i want to thank our panelists. their titles and affiliations are on the screen. i will introduce you briefly. we have rachel cletus, director
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of concerned scientists. next to her is marianne hicks, the on-call campaign director of the beyond coal campaign at the sierra club. next to her is the director of world resources institute in the united states. next to him is karen palmer, resources for the future. she is a senior fellow and director of the future of power initiative. thank you all for being here today. i hope you enjoyed the interviews with lawmakers. i want to offer each of you a brief couple of minutes to respond to questions about what you have been focusing on lately. rachel, i will start with you. >> i sought a report they released recently on the importance of keeping open existing nuclear reactors. to what degree are you comparing this message, or conveying the message about nuclear power to the activists and politicians who are pushing the green new deal and other progressive
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climate policies. >> the union of concerned scientists has, for a long time, been a nuclear safety watchdog. we are not an anti-nuclear organization. one thing we try to highlight in this report as mentioned is the nuclear power dilemma that we released last year. unfortunately, as nuclear power plants in the united states are coming under market pressure, because of the low cost of natural gas, and increasing energy efficiency and the pulling cost of renewables, we are seeing nuclear plants retiring, or being under pressure to retire. they're being replaced, in many cases by natural gas. that means that carbon emissions are growing as they are being retired. our research was pointing out that we have about one third of nuclear plants, that are under pressure to retire. if they
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were to retire, emissions could rise as much as 6%. that would be co2 emissions in the power sector. from a climate perspective, that is a real challenge. we did point out the need to have a careful approach, that tries to keep these plants online, through ensuring that they are operating safely, and they are not being given unlimited, or endless amounts of money, but open up their financial books and are being given money in accordance to stay online. we are putting incentives and for energy efficiency and renewable energy to be expanded as well. that, to us, having this approach, an approach where we prioritize low carbon energy resources in the power sector, that is the core solution to the climate challenge. >> as a reminder, audience, please write down your questions and vote for them online.
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also, please join in on the conversation on twitter. many of you have already been doing that. please keep it up. marianne, you're beyond coal campaign has a goal of eliminating coal within 11 years. while the green new deal up peers to call for an end to all carbon in that same timeframe. are you worried there is an increasing gap between the rhetoric and the goals, and reality of what is possible? >> thank you for all of your great reporting and thank you for having me. it is an honor to be here. this sierra club, one of our niches in the environment movement, we have a democratically elected board of directors. it is elected by 3 million members and supporters. they have adopted the goal of getting all fossil fuels off of the power grid by 2030. the beyond coal campaign has been working for over a decade
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to stop the wave of 200 new coal plants that were proposed during the george w. bush years. we had many partner organizations and grassroot folks all over the country worried about water pollution, air pollution, public health, etc. they stop those new coal plants, then turn to the existing fleet of coal lands. i live in west virginia. i take to heart the comments about doing this in a way that does not leave people behind. that is an important part of the green new deal. we are at the point now, where we have half of the coal plants in united dates, 287, announced to retire. giving the urgency of the climate crisis, and the pollution that comes not just from coal, but gas extraction production, and burning. we are working in earnest to try to get an electric grid powered with renewable energy by 2030. given the progress we have made
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over the past decade, it is a lofty goal, but i think it is possible. >> how much of the coal retirement goes to the revolution, which they oppose? >> there is no doubt that the gas revolution created a lot of dramatic changes in the electric sector, for sure. it created a lot of competition for coal. the reality, right now, is we have a raise in front of us for who will own americas energy future. we are doing everything we can to make sure renewable energy and storage when that race. we have the biggest change in how we make electricity in america taking place right now. the biggest change since the industrial revolution. this decision is being made in states, by state decision- makers, grassroots leaders, and those pushing to influence those decisions.
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the future is up for grabs. we are doing everything we can to make sure that renewable energy grabs that future. >> what would you say is a blind spot in the debate of the carbon icing the electricity sector, and other blind spots? transportation? industrial sector? >> i don't know that the blind spot. one thing we need to consider is, as we d carbonized electricity sector, we will see a significant increase or need to see an increase in total electricity demand, as we electrified transportation and buildings, and industry. we could see a 50% increase in electricity demand, or more, depending on how successful we are in increasing the efficiency of the and uses of electricity. even with that, a range of studies show that
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transportation, buildings, and industry will need more electricity. that can be a very good thing. this is something we have to plan for. that probably means, one of the big friction points might be on transmission. as we go to more renewables and the need for more electricity to d carbonized, not just the power sector, but the entire economy. we will need more transmission. that will be a cost-effective thing to do. there will be issues around the siting of that. there is perhaps new technology that can help with that, we can use high-voltage dc lines that are cost-effective to put underground, rather than a bug. above. i would say, these are issues we need to bring into the conversation. >> karen, how essential do you think a price on carbon is to any climate policy? >> it is crucial to climate policy.
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i think, we talk a lot about the different technologies that will need to come on board, and need to d carbonized. it is very hard to predict exactly what the solutions will be. having a price on carbon is a way to provide an incentive to reduce carbon emissions at all margins, wherever they occur. having said that, it also provides revenue that can be used to address various concerns that come up. we talked about some of them. the impacts on consumers, and others. it creates a body of revenue, either through a carbon tax or cap and trade program with an auction associated with it. i do think we should not necessarily think that that will be sufficient. i think, given the ambition of what we need to do, and how quickly we need to get it done, we will need programs related to research and development.
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we will also need other types of policies to encourage technology and a carbon tax can provide revenue for achieving those goals as well. >> the good thing about only having one microphone for all four of them, they cannot talk over each other. i will have to try to employ that strategy later. a question for all of you, we did touch on this a little bit in the previous conversations. a question on carbon capture technologies. the former vice president al gore told me at the un climate conference last december, that he things carbon capture technology is nonsense. do you agree with that, why or why not? >> i don't think it's nonsense, it is important to not rule out any type of technology, and provide incentives through the pricing mechanisms.
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because there is such a bold challenge right now that we need to keep a lot of options on the table, i would not want to rule it out at this point.:i agree with karen on that. what i would add, when carbon capture was initially just dust , a decade or so ago, the focus was on coal, and keeping the coal industry in the united states alive, and there being a pathway for coal. is very unlikely. if you had a technology neutral, whether carbon tax, or clean energy standard, or cap and trade, let zero carbon technologies compete with each other, we would expect renewables to be the vast majority of the united states electricity generation. for the last 5-20%, depending on the economics, it's not able to have a technology that is manageable. that is where carbon capture
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could play an important role. the economics, right now, suggest that would be on natural gas. the other pays were carbon capture could be would be on carbon monoxide removal. if we started 30 years ago, when we should have, we would not need to be talking about removing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. now we need to have that conversation. while there is a lot we can do with natural climates solution, trees are great way to take carbonell, there's only so much land. we have to read 10 billion people at the same time while we are trying to solve the change. there is a significant role for technological carbon removal, and capturing the co2 and keeping it out of the atmosphere. >> is this something that the sierra club is supporting at all? >> a couple of thoughts on that
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from my perspective, there are other problems associated with fossil fuel development that carbon capture does not address. if you're the mom of a child with asthma living near coal plant, if you have coal ash lead, or mercury underwater, or a gas line threatening your farm, or fracking ways in your drinking water, there many reasons that people are opposed to fossil fuels and supporting renewable energy, that just addressing the carbon problem does not address. mountains being blown up in appalachia for example. >> the other is, we have utilities around the country that are doing rsp, indiana, colorado, and are finding that new wind is cheaper than running existing coal plants.
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a utility in indiana will retire the coal plants and replace them entirely with wind , and solar storage, and have an efficiency in demand response. they will say customers of $4 billion. the cost of carbon capture, when you are in the world of portable, renewable energy, from the sierra club point of view, we will focus the advocacy dollars and resources, and smarts into doubling down on renewables. >> i do agree with the earlier speakers. carbon capture could have a role. the challenge is, when we get into this magical thinking arena where we think it will solve all of the problems, the first solution is ramping up zero carbon energy sources and energy efficient. we need a lot of renewables for energy efficiency. the power sector, in
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particular, is one that is right for these types of low carbon solutions. we might need carbon capture and storage combined with natural gas in the power sector. where we might really need is the industrial sector. it might be very hard to d carbonized the industrial processes. in the power sector, we have so many cost-effective allusions. we have double digit cost drops in renewable energy. we have battery technology. there is no reason why we should not drive as far as possible in this sector, deploying these resources. we must invest in making carbon capture and storage more cost- effective, and pretty down the cost. there is a role for public sector there dollars along with the public and private sector. lung question for the audience relating to this, most
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of the discussions today have been in the united states. currently, it's focus on domestic action. what should the united states be doing to support developing countries? that is a good segue to the discussion of we are here at the marginal cost, it is cheaper than the current coal plant. in places like southeast asia, where electricity is ramping up incredibly fast, the equation is different. i did a story about a former secretary of state's efforts to get vietnam off of coal. what showed in the reporting, the 2 billion people that live in southeast asia, let me revise that, 350 million people in america have six times as much electricity as the 2 billion people that live in southeast asia. i would argue, people need to have electricity, first and foremost. the next question is, for people like the former secretary of state, john kerry,
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how do you make that as clean as possible, while addressing the impact of climate change on places like vietnam? all of these organizations, you have global footprints. what can the united states do to help countries get electricity and have it clean? >> that is absolutely true. we have millions of people around the world who do not have access to electricity. some of them do not have access to modern forms of energy at all. we are living in a world of dire inequality. just having access to modern forms of energy as a challenge in many countries. that is such a question of the quality of life, life and death in some cases. united states, should be at the forefront of helping countries get access, and get access to clean forms of energy where possible. we know that air and water pollution are killing millions of people around the world. there are many reasons in
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addition to climate, to move away from fossil fuel dependency. what the u.s. should not be doing is trying to get the whole world hooked on natural gas. that is where we seem to be headed. we are the number one exporter of oil. those types of actions are not in the direction of the low carbon transition. united states and other rich countries, we have a great deal of responsibility. in many of these places, the contributions to global warming emissions has been so small, yet places like this area that was hit by a terrible flood in zambia, these countries are struggling with the effects. we have to invest in protecting communities. united states can be a leader, and we should be a leader on this. >> i agree with the comments about not getting the world hooked on gas. i will add, i have had the
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honor and privilege of meeting the leading coal activists for most of the countries and continents around the world. they are facing ways to produce coal plants, or pollution from coal plants, you name the country coming in the continent, and in the most difficult and oppressive political regimes, people are standing up to the coal industry. it is heroic and inspiring. this is for all of the same reasons people down here. is due to water and air pollution, and climate change. in many countries coming of the added factor of the economics. in india, for example, there are big investments in coal, which are quickly getting passed over by cheap and renewable energy. they are coming back, politically to have a cost for those that pushed for the big
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investments of public resources and call that cannot compete before they have even turned on the switch. the dynamics around coal around the world are shifting quickly. there are many folks that can now see, in europe and other parts of the world, that there is another solution. it's cleaner and cheaper. they are racing to that solution. >> i do agree with these comments. the nice thing about being in wri, this is a global organization, half of our staff is outside of the united states. we have programs in china, india, brazil, indonesia, etc. the conversation is really changing. one of the projects that we work on, shows on a global basis that clean energy, and transition offers a $26 trillion economic growth opportunity. the conversation, still within the un circles, you do get a
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little bit of, developing countries can cause the problem, you should pay to clean it up. in country, the conversation is much more about, the low carbon path is the only path to economic development. for example, indonesia and vietnam is one area that has been pre-committed to coal. we released a report on the new climate economy collaborative in indonesia, that flip sat on its head, and shows the low carbon path is the more rapid path to economic development. it is the case we have to make, globally. it doesn't include natural gas? >> there may be a role for natural gas as a transition fuel. this is focused on a transition that is consistent with the 1.5 degree target. that means, if
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you use natural gas, not for long. the one thing i would add, in the rural context, in countries that are in the early stages of developing, there is an opportunity for lessons from the distributed energy movement that is going on here, for ways you can deploy renewables in that context. you can bypass the big investment and trends mission, bringing gas power to people. you have the advantage in places that are not electrified yet, of relatively low expectations of reliability. some power could be better with innovations and storage, that can accompany those investments. >> to what degree, yes or no, do you think natural gas should be a transition fuel?
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>> yes. >> i think at this point, it is a detour. i think we build, in the u.s., all the natural gas infrastructure that we will need. it is time to start switching 20 carbon sources. >> know. >> not in the u.s. i think as dan said, we have built up what we need. someone need to stay online with ccs. uncontrolled natural gas has no place here. >> you say no in the united states, but in other countries? >> we have not left a lot of room for transmission for those that don't have the resources that the u.s. and other rich nations have. we gobbled up the carbon space. if there is a transition, needs to be short. we need to create space for that transition in the carbon
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budget. >> i think karen wanted to say something. >> the one question i am uncertain about is the role of biogas in this transition. i will add that into the mix in terms of that being a source of fuel. that might make sense. back one popular audience question is of course, politically related. you cannot leave this town, it's a politically driven town. you have a year and a half before the election. this is all we are talking about. the question is, if you could submit one question to the democratic primary debate, what would it be? >> what is your position, what is your vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and confronting the climate challenge, what is the price on
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carbon play in that? what is your plan to getting to net zero emissions before the middle of the century? >> what is your plan for getting all fossil fuels off of the power grid by 2030, and providing transition for workers and communities that have been historically dependent on fossil fuels? >> what is your vision for a bold, climate solution. there are many communities that have a disproportionate burden from the pollution from our dependence on fossil fuels, and communities that will need help with adjustment in transition as we move away from them. this is a good segue to the green new deal, which we have not talked about that much. i think it is good. we don't want it to take up all the oxygen. it is emerging as the default, progressive, democratic candidate position on climate change.
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it is in the eye of the beholder. another lightning round for the panel. on a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about the green new deal, given what we know about it today? >> i think it's part an incredible amount of conversations on washington, d.c. on that score, i would give it at least an eight. in the details, they are very important, especially finding a bipartisan way to get those pieces and acted quickly. to me, in terms of vision and conversation is parked, high points, now the hard work begins. >> for me personally, i would say 10. the way that i think about the green new deal, we had to make this transition. we had to tackle the climate crisis. we will do it in a way that we don't leave anybody behind.
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everybody gets to share in the benefits of a clean energy economy. i am so excited, by all the energy behind it. the fact that it has finally put this issue on the front burner in washington. >> i will agree with rachel. i think i will pick hers. >> i am picking at 8. same reason she gave. one thing i will add, it did add to the conversation, this notion that the ambition should not be limited in terms of public investment. there's a big debate to be had about what role it plays, and how big of a role it plays. i do agree that carbon pricing should be a key component of a
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comprehensive solution. the green new deal conversation said, well, maybe we should limit our ambition in terms of what public invest it is to the revenue that you would get from carbon pricing. that is a very useful note. we are facing an existential crisis. we need to spend what we need to spend to stop it. there are many debates to be had about how this plays out. this does re-help shape the debate. >> i will start by saying, when i was a teaching assistant in grad school, i was a hard greater. i will give it a seven. i share a lot of the accolades in terms of bringing the issue to the floor, and getting conversations started. everybody getsquestions by reporters . you have to have an opinion about the issues. that is important for the elected leaders and the rest of us. i also think it has some clinical brilliance in terms of
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the other issues that people care about into the mix. i think about those issues. i think about having a job, and healthcare, these are important issues. it helps to build a coalition. i also agree that will need to bring the public along. this is not, i think it is the responsibility of the elected leaders to deal with the technical issues associated with designing a climate policy, it is important to listen to the people around the country. that is part of what this new proposal and vision is engaging people on. >> is out like you think it is good that the green new deal has the components of healthcare , is that correct? >> for conversation piece it's good. do i think that the policies coming out of the committee
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will deal with those issues? not initially. they are important for society. it is important for getting the conversation going and having it be broader. i think the aspirations that are in there about getting to points in time are ambitious. they are more ambitious than the state of california. there more ambitious than what sweden is doing. they are starting from a more renewable starting point. it is useful to have ambitious goals. a gets a conversation going. >> i will jump off of something rachel said, the idea of bipartisanship. the green new deal is taking off amongst democrats and progressives. i saw an iowa caucus poll question that saw 85% of democrats supported. there was another poll question by yale the found republicans supported it as well is democrats. i take it with a grain of salt, it includes part of the proposal. at least, here in washington, this has become deeply
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polarizing. one congressman hinted at that as well. i do think the inclusion of the economic issues on healthcare and job guarantees as part of that, and the ambition the proposal has contributed to the polarization. what ideas that you have for trying to make this a bipartisan issue? that is a twofold question. number one, do you think you need republicans to address climate change? if yes, how do you hope to get that? if no, how do you plan to get around that? >> i do think you need bipartisan support for a policy. it needs to last a long time. there are many political ups and downs in washington. something that has bipartisan
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support is likely to be bigger, broader, and more sustainable going forward. >> had even get it? i'm not an expert on that. >> my reflection on that is, we need bipartisanship, yes, and we need a plan. so far we have only seen a land come from one side. from the other side, we have seen delays, barriers, and the dragging of each, and try to take us backwards. i don't quite know what the recipe for bipartisanship is, when the democrats have a plan, and the republicans do not. i do think, in the upcoming election, this is what voters will look for is an actionable plan. the urgency, especially for young people, and people who
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felt the impact of climate change, which people are now feeling, or people who are living with fossil fuel pollution, will only escalate. i do not know that this is the generation of folks that will wait around for other folks to have a plan. >> i do agree completely that this has to happen in a bipartisan way. we did hear representative castro and others point to those avenues of bipartisanship. there is wide agreement around renewable, clean energy. whether this is a red state or blue state, this is a great avenue to move forward. some new technology like energy storage could be avenues that can help us move forward. climate resilience and adaptation, unfortunately, the impacts of climate change are already around us. we have aliens of dollars worth of damage around the country. people are looking for solutions. this is an obvious place for bipartisan work. the other
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thing i would say, i am not a beltway insider. after the rest of the country, the issues that people are thinking about our health, jobs, and these are connected to climate. we can have an ambitious limit policy about creating jobs, as we transition away from fossil fuels. we can take care of communities. we can ramp up forms of energy that are not as polluting. that means a great deal to communities predominately communities of color that bear the brunt of pollution from the dependence on fossil fuels. there is an appetite out there in the country, based on the daily lived experiences to move us in this direction. our leaders, hopefully will be leading the constituents based on what they actually want, versus tribal loyalties that exist inside the beltway. >> that is a good segue to the audience questions that i have
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on my list. one is, how do we make sure that decarbonization is racially and economically just? we have two competing forces, you have the impacts of climate change in self, hitting poor people, and people who are covered just a proportionally, energy cost will impact those same people. how do you ensure that this is done in a way that impacts these people the least? does it require policies like job guarantees? is there a way to do it without wrapping it up with these other huge policies? spec let's remember that the original new deal was not one policy that had everything packaged overnight. it was a decades long enterprise . there were many aspects to building support for different pieces of it. i don't think anyone here is naove enough to think that everything in the green new deal resolution will be
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packaged into one policy. what is true is that the country is simultaneously dealing with a climate crisis, and a real crisis in eden -- any quality. we see this when it comes to health outcomes and job outcomes. yes, we can have different approaches that managed to get us, not just to acclimate say feature, but a better future, where all americans can participate in the clean energy economy. i do think, this is part of a broader struggle that the country is struggling with. for the first time in a long while, people are waking up and recognizing, you know what, the civil rights movement is not over. we did not pass a bill and everything became good overnight. as a country, we are grappling with long legacies and real implications in people's life from that painful history. that does include where people
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live, and their exposure to climate impacts. it also includes their ability to cope with the impacts. they either don't have the resources, or they have challenges like health challenges. really, we are looking for solutions that do not solve just climate change in the corner, but solve it in an equitable way that brings society with it. that is a core nugget in this report. they did say very clearly, this is not just about a technological fix. this is about deep, socioeconomic transition and transformation. that is the vision. we need politicians that will be bold enough to lay out the vision of the future, when the people that want to move towards. back when we mentioned earlier, the partisan nature of this in washington, i think we look to the states, and we see a very different story. illinois, right now, there's a piece of legislation moving called the future energy jobs
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act. it would really increase the states ambition on renewable energy. it puts it on a very bold and rapid path to decolonize the power sector. it was created by a coalition of front-line labor and environmental organizations. it has very solid, real policy components about making sure that clean energy economy benefits a communities of color , and fossil fuel workers have a transition pathway, california, the city of los angeles, made the decision that they will not reinvest in refurbishing gas plants. they will spend the $2 billion on renewable energy, distributed energy, community seller, a whole host of solutions that will be clean, just, and adjust the economic disparities. we are seeing very concrete,
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real, forward motion on this from the states. this is the same place where we have seen the leadership to retire 287 coal plants in this country. i do think those places are giving us a taste of the fact that this is not just possible, but it builds power and coalitions. it creates momentum in the places where they are doing the hard work and figuring things out. >> i would also add two other examples from california. we can look to states to see how this works. in california, the carbon pricing system, which is a cap and trade system, requires that 35% of the revenue from selling pollution allowances has to be invested in projects that benefit disadvantaged communities. 25% are going directly to that community. the reauthorization of the cap and trade program, from 2020
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through 2030 was passed with a very ambitious program to specifically focus on localized air pollution. we are making sure that we are addressing the most polluted neighborhoods, and lowering overall greenhouse gas emissions. we are focusing on diesel emissions, and freight corridors . we are focusing on places that have been in the backyard of energy generation in the past, and moving to cleaner sources. it is a question of, very intentionally building those types of policies into the framework, that can address these issues. >> on your point on the bipartisanship issue. in illinois, this is a good example.
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has it been bipartisanship on keeping the nuclear power plants? i believe the sierra club has been supportive of those efforts at this level. this is a question for the panel, lightning round. do you support keeping open, and passing policy to keep open struggling, but operating safely, nuclear power plants? spec that would be like three mile island in pennsylvania. >> one way to do that that would be cost-effective would be to expand the renewable portfolio standard policies to be broader and more technology neutral, like a clean energy standard. at the federal level, senator smith is getting ready to propose something like that. i believe this is a way to provide an incentive that will
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encourage those plans to stay online if they are operated cost-effectively. that would be the mechanism by which that could happen. there are many ways you can design those policies. :i will agree with that. a congressman is working on a house version of that bill. that is an interesting proposal that could have a lot of benefits. we really have benefited a lot with this issue. the reports on the nuclear dilemma is extremely helpful, well done, and carefully researched. i defer to them on that. we do not take positions on individual plants or state policies on that. :as i mentioned, the sierra club is democratically run, a
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board of directors, elected by our members, and part of the energy policy is in opposition to nuclear power. that is the organizational position of the sierra club. we also have a lot of chapters, invokes and states, dealing with complicated situations around state legislation about an entire package of energy decisions. we look to those folks for their leadership. whether it is illinois or the other folks who have been in the state houses for decades, and are the ones having to read every line of the legislation and figure a path forward. we try to have a process for those folks when they deal with those hard decisions. we respect the local leadership on the ground. >> yes, for plants that are operating safely, as a first- line solution, for the low
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carbon electricity standard, that would be the ultimate way to go. in the absence of federal policy, we are seeing states stepping in with a variety of solutions. they should not be unlimited in the amounts of money, add a ton of time. they should be done on a case- by-case basis, looking at the safety record of the plant. there should be efficiency for renewables, and transitions for workers who might be working in those plants, were they to retire. ultimately, this increase is important. the cost of keeping them online , is being passed through to ratepayers. there are equity dimensions of handling the challenge in that way, especially for fixed income households. we do need to take those aspects into account as well. in our current climate, as we saw through our analysis and report, the plants that are
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retiring earlier being replaced by fossil fuel generation sources, natural gas, primarily. from a climate perspective, that is a challenging situation. >> just looking at the questions, i see a lot of commonality amongst the idea, to what extent, 100% renewable electricity in the united states is possible. a quick yes or no, do you think it's possible? is it technically possible? 100% renewable? spec 100% zero carbon, yes, 100% renewable, we can get up to 90+ percent. it is the last bit, the starts getting challenging. of course, this is not a one and done thing by 2050. we have to recognize that dealing with climate change is the work of the entire century. maybe, maybe not by 2050. that is not a reason to rule it out over time. storage technology is
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improving. for 2050, i would say we could get very close, but not 100%. >> i would say yes, it is possible, recognizing that we only know how to get 80% of the way there now, by the time we get to that 80%, there will be so much innovation along the way, that last 20% will come into focus. that has been my experience, working in the electric sector. when i started, people says we get half from coal, it's always been that way, it will always that way. if we change that, everybody's lights will go out. everybody's electrical bills will skyrocket. now we get less than a quarter of our electricity from coal. that's 10 years going from have to a quarter. electricity bills are low. we can see innovation in the last 10% that would close the gap. :that's largely due to natural gas. that's why prices have not gone up. i was in australia, the prices
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are all of the map that they don't have natural gas. >> again, you have excel, and utilities that are finding, when they use wind and solar was storage, that is coming in cheaper than the cost of running existing coal plants. i think that was true, and is changing under our feet. we do cross the tipping point, where new renewables became cheaper than running an existing coal plant. that is new. that's new economic options. we have new momentum that we do not have before. we can now take advantage of that. >> i say yes it is technically feasible but not economically sensible. the last, we don't know how much, 5%, or 10%, or 20%, is difficult to get to zero carbon. to me, the goal is zero carbon. that is what we should focus on. >> i think the fact that we
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will need to electrify other sectors of the economy, and other energy and uses like transportation, space heating, water heating, space cooling, it does afford an opportunity. those consumptions of electricity are things that could be scheduled or incentivized to happened at times when renewables are abundant. you can raise the value of them in the marketplace, and deal with intermittent issues. can we get to 100%? i don't know, i think we can get further we try to work on providing incentives for the demand to happen, when renewables are abundant. here's a question, this is related to psychology. good on you, for being anonymous geographically speaking. there is a huge body of research on psychology of climate change. it is fascinating, if you ever want to go down the rabbit
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hole. the question is, how do we make this relatable and more portly, easily understandable to break down the barriers? :i believe it is starting to happen with all of the effects that are happening, like sea levels rising, more frequent fires and storms, these are things that people can relate to . as said earlier, your insurance bills are going up. as those stories start to permeate on social media, or in other forums, it will help make the potential threats associated with the changing climate, more real to people. that is part of how it happens. >> i'm not an expert. >> first, catherine is a climate scientist who gave a
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ted talk about this. she said the number one, most important thing you can do is talk about it. just talk about it with your families, people in your social circles. that alone, will start percolating out broadly amongst our networks. who will talk to us about it? it will be our kids. my daughter is 8 years old, and she participated in the climate strike. she stood up and gave the first speech of her life. i wasn't even in town. i did not put her up to it. she is worried about her future. she is worried about the polar bears. she is worried about the weather. i do think if we don't talk about it, i think kids are talking about it. i think we saw that with the climate strikes. that could be the thing that gets people talking about it in a way that we have not before. >> i do think it comes down to people seeing it in their daily
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lives. unfortunately, now, it is touching people's daily lives. we have these extreme events that we are seeing. i do agree with marianne, my kids, my son is in elementary school. my daughter is in middle school. they completely relate. their generation knows exactly what this is about. they do know what is at stake. they are out on the streets on strike. they don't understand why the adults haven't dealt with this problem. relating to climate change might be an old people problem. maybe, our generation has a generational divide. i think young people completely relate to it. the implications it has for the future are there. >> i do think many people who raise their hands, saying they don't drive cars to make a wild assumption that you are on the younger side, younger than 30, or younger than 25. i have written about how climate change is fundamentally a different phenomenon than
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-rights , or marriage, or things like that. one big reason for that is, you don't have this immediate effect. if we do the carbon price while, we have this idea that we accept big change now, relatively speaking, a metamorphosis change for later. the psychology related question, how do you convince people to make big changes when the impact will be hard to combat? >> there is a great moment to talk about these things. people are looking for change. they are looking for change in their quality of life. access to jobs, public health concerns, there are many benefits. we don't have to wait
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until 2050. we make the huge shift to renewable energy, it will bring a lot of jobs and economic offense, and public health benefits here and now. this is true in the developing world as well. this is why countries like india and china are investing so heavily in clean forms of energy. people are dying in cities from exposure to pollution. there is a great case to be made about the benefits of doing this. the other thing is, there are many things we can be doing on the time and resilience side as well. it can have great benefits. we can be designing our infrastructure, and upgrading the infrastructure that is desperately in need of investment anyway. we can upgrade it in a climate resilient way. yet the new infrastructure investments that are climate resilient. these are things we need to be talking about here. >> speaking for myself, i came into these issues, fighting against mountaintop removal
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coal mining. they blow up the mountains. i did not know that much about climate change. i realize, is not just the mountains in my region where i live that are being blown up, other people are dealing with air pollution. other people are dealing with the coal ash spill. that was my entry point to connect the dots, that led me to the climate. whether it's through exposure to health and property damages, or because you get solar panels and an electric car, and you think you're so cool, and fun, and amazing, you recognize not everybody has that privilege or luxury. many people do. they put solar panels on to reduce their electric bill, and try to be a deep good person. they get drawn into how it works, and why doesn't everyone have solar panels? why is that the energy policymaking is easy for everyone? it is a real, psychological
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challenge to get people to care about something so big and so broad. your individual actions feel like they may not add up. i think many people can honestly get ambivalent and stuck there. i do think it is part of my job as an advocate to show people wherever they come in, to help connect the dots to the big picture. >> i think these cases, where the climate solution is just better, they are very important. i don't know anybody that has an electric car that would consider going back to a gas powered car. it is just better. there are exceptions. there are taxi drivers and washington, d.c., that the low range electric cars in the infrastructure is not there. that is a policy problem we need to address. nobody i know, who has driven electric, whatever go back. why do we tolerate open flames in our homes that create air pollution in our kitchen?
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old-style electric ranges were terrible. induction cooking is awesome. we need to see more celebrity chefs on tv cooking with induction ranges. then more and more people will start electrifying their homes as well. >> i have another lightning round question. we are nearing the end of this event. i am asking you to keep your comments as brief as possible. i know that is tough in washington. i do strive to do this, to bring this to the stage. we're having this conversation. the backdrop is republican senate who is not considering the issue. we have a republican president of the doesn't think climate change is a problem. these issues are settled. can you name one climate policy that is bipartisan that you support? >> personally, we don't take
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positions, i think the clean energy standard discussions that are good policy. when he did ask about pies -- a bipartisan way forward, i think that might be a way forward. it has many features of pricing carbon without directly pricing carbon. we have done a lot of work and resources for the future that suggests that can be cost- effective. there many details to be worked out, but people are thinking about that. i think that could be a good way forward. >> the regional greenhouse gas initiative is partisan and is good policy. >> not being from the beltway, i would point to the 100% clean energy bills that have been passing around the country in the states. >> there is real promise in the low carbon electricity standard . there are interesting things happening on the climate resilience front as well. that does include the initiative
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of the department of defense, who has been pointing out, in various reports, and ways, showing leadership and investing in climate resilience. there is a real opportunity for bipartisanship. back in my concluding questions, yes or no, prediction from each of you, you know what it is by now, in 5 years, congress will have passed a big climate policy? >> absolutely yes. >> yes, you know that about me by now. >> yes. >> yes. >> i will say no, just to be the disagree her. i do want to say thank you for the panel, and everybody for joining us. [ applause ]
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