tv World Resources Institute Climate Change Discussions CSPAN April 16, 2019 2:03pm-4:02pm EDT
c-span's big idea is more relevant today than ever. no government money supports c-span. it's nonpartisan coverage is funded as a public service by your capable or satellite provider, on television and online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government, so can you make up your own mind. congresswoman kathy caster, and congress korbelo spoke recently about how to combat climate change. after they spoke, the group heard from a panel of climate advocates.
good afternoon. thank for you attending the forum. by the way, if you were looking for a discussion on clinical symptoms of psychological disorders, you're in the wrong room. or maybe not. my name is dan lashoff. i am the u.s. director for world rear sources institute. i'm going to give a few minutes of introduction and framing remarks to today's discussion before turning the stage over to amy harter of axios who will be interviews kathy caster, followed by a discussion with carlos grubello who fo found -- and last year was the first republican in a decade 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 he really appreciate it. we do plan additional fora in the future such as transportation, infrastructure, and managing as we do that. so student for future announcements. institute on a mission to foster change that protects cert's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. we work on seven global challenges, all of which link bag directly or indirectly to
the topic we're here to discuss today. our approach is grounded in science and data, count it. we help policymakers from all parties develop and implement innovative solutions and communicate ideas to decision makers and the public. change 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 each other. here it's sometimes easy to forget the cry call way of these actors, but in an analysis done by wrmi, last year for america's pledge shows that complementing
their commitments would lead to about a 17% reduction in u.s. emissions by 2025, with no further action from washington. with deeper and broader commitments we could see reductions of as much as 24% which is within striking distance of the pledge the united states made as part of the paris agreement. and in in good news, in recent months we have seen a exciting developments, a growing number of states have set targets such as 50% by 2030 or 100% by 2050, oar even earlier. carbon pricing is expanding to more states, and more sectors. states are cooperating more intensively through the u.s. climate alliance, which has grown to over 23 governors who are committed to the goals of the paris agreement. they now represent about 50% of
the u.s. population and more than 60% of our gdp. at the federal level, climate change has reemerged as a top priority on capitol hill. the conversation has 345 toured from whether to take action to how. the emergence of the green new deal has inspired unprecedented activism and sparked a lively debade about and the context of economic and sort equity. in addition to the goals enuns yaled in the green new deal resolution, we're also seeing more and more concrete legislative proposals, inclusion two carbon pricing bills as well as his fellow florida republican francis rooney. representative castor is the
primary sponsor of hr-9 had focuses on keeping us in the par i agreement. lamar alexander has prepared a new manhattan project focused on northerly r&d, we've also seen cap and different proposal, and climate smart infrastructure plan. reflecting on all this. es let 1,000 proposals bloom. that really captures where we are right now. there is a hung foresolutions to the crisis and how to realize them. that's what we're here to talk about today. again, thanks for coming. there are a few more seats in the middle if people want to slide in. we do want to keach the conversation interactive. wheel we don't want you to check e-mails on the phones, we want
you to take them out and take part in a quick poll on this platform slideout. we'll also use the platform for asking questions to the panelists. if you go to event code 350, we'll have this poll. here's the question -- by when should the united states aim to clef a -- and you'll see options for your actions there. i don't know -- i'll give people a minute to get there. okay. interesting. this is a pretty ambitious group, with by 2030 having the
plurality of votes. so this is obviously a key question, and we'll be delving into it. it's my great honor to introduce our featured speaker. congressman castor. castor is a national leader on clean energy. she was recently appointed to chair the select committee on the climate crisis, which held its first hearing last week. i'm also very thankful to amy harter, she is one of the top journalists in the country on energy and climate issues. she is widely respected across the political spectrum as a uniquely balanced and influential voice. she covers climate and energy
issues in news stories as part of her regular column for axios called "harter line." so without further ado, please welcome kathy castor and amy harter. thank you. >> well, good afternoon, everybody. it's great to be here. thank you, congresswoman, for taking the time to be here. this might be one of the first public appearance since being chair democrat woman of the committee, so thank you for that. you lead a committee with no subpoena power, which leads to criticism it's mainly just for messaging. democrats leading the permanent committees are getting a big footing over the jurisdiction issues, the loudest don't think you're doing enough, the loudest
republicans think that climate change isn't a problem. while i do acknowledge that republicans are shivering, there's still a lot on capitol hill who are talking on other issues on this issue how do you break through all of that noise and try to make a tangible difference? >> thank you. good afternoon, everyone. thank to you wri for hosting this discussion. yes, this is my first public appearance as chair of the climate crisis committee. and amy, thank you, i tune into your axios energy report every morning. it's quite enlightning. you have quite a broad jurisdiction yourself. >> we also face criticism. but back to the time she knew he
didn't have any time to waste. and holding the hearings on the topic of climate, we intend for the climate crisis select committee to be it is one that is the umbrella the young people who are really at their wit's end saying, c'mon, the planet is burning, so we have four young people who are leaders in the climate movement to come to
signing on to slido to ask questions for both the congresswoman and from car bello which i'll get to later. though reporters can multitask. so please by thinking about that as wet some criticism can you respond to that? yes, we will do some highlighting of the problem, but the science is in. we don't have to spend a lot of time on is climate change happens.
and how we get resources back home to our community to do just that. so look for us to see the cutting-edge work in wind power across the country. where do you think we should go? >> is that 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 heard from my colleges on texas. there's a pretty rages debate about the pace and intensity of the world and america's lower carbon energy transition.
a lot of it, independent experts say that some of the goals laid out in what we know about the green new deal are somewhat unrealistic. for there's a debate about -- where do you come in on that? do you think that some of the plans right now at risk of shutting down, should there be an effort of keeping those open? 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 river, where the electric utility wanted to update it they actually went to rate pay respect and said you're going to
pay in variance they broke the plant, and ratepayers ended up on the hook without one kilowatt of energy being produced. that would have been money better spent in building solar power, where we have the most potential or more on energy efficiency, and things like that. it's going to be a balance. we're going to look at all of that. >> would you consider holding a hear in pennsylvania where there's a big debate or perhaps in ohio where the debates right now, whether or not to keep open some of those plants? >> we're going to have to investigate those and take these issues head-on there are very significant issues, and part of
truly addressing it will be a just transition for many of the communities that are fossil-fuel based. we don't have a lot of time to waste on this. >> i think this audience is pretty well informed where you is where you capture carbon from coal stacks, or even something like an ethanol plant. there's room in this debate for whether those should be part of the solution. do you think that's just a way to further the fossil fuel age? which is the main criticism of it? it is i also in my neck much the words there's a coal-powered plant in
tampa bay, there's our big tampa electric now owned by amera coal-fired power plant. they recently announced they'll shut down two of the coal-fired engines and go to combined cycle and put in more frack gas, but yes, that sent seems like they are guarantees that fog the fuels burnell well into the future, and, again for us to double down, and -- but all of those things will have to be brought into balance. i think the role today is not to draw those bright lines, but we don't have time to waste. when you look at the ipc report
that said reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and this audience says we ought to do better than that. >> what would you vote for, congresswoman -- or perhaps you did vote, but can you share how you voted? >> we've got to be as close -- will you closer to 2050? >> we need to be as ambitious as possible. that's largely what we'll be looking at others the next year, and in the meantime pressing for the the trump administration to do better. , and cad mission centers that having in the lead now, but it's long past time for the united states federal government to have a bold plan of action. >> a reminder to those on
questions on slido, you can vote for questions you would like answered. one question i'm seeing come up, given there's a drive to have urnant action, what is a policy that you could curb in your committee that could have an impact today? >> there's a bunch of low-hanging fruit. 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 america keeps its edge in the world as the leader in how we manufactured modern cars. that goes to all vehicles. wand hopefully we'll get to an infrastructure bill. speaker pelosi and the democratic caucus have i high on rebuilding america and a large portion of that will be devoted to if they agree that we should pay for things in america, again, a big portion of that will be planning for electric vehicles, transit and hopefully billing the modern grid across the country. >> that brings me to one question which has a whopping seven votes, the most at this moment decarbonization is not only about electricity. it's also about industry raise your hand if you drive an
electric car. raise your car if you drive a gasoline-powered car or hybrid. raise your hand if you don't drive a car at all. so for those of you on the livestream, i would say the no cars crowd wins it, which i think is surprising and reminds us of the bubble we all live in. i live here in washington, d.c., i don't have a car. but i grew up on a tiny little town on a cattle ranch in eastern washington state where i drove everywhere. i have a keen awareness of impacts on gasoline, stuff like that. what are your thoughts about greening the transportation and industry sections without, you know, causing too high of gasoline prices and other costs that consumers are concerned about.
boy we should spur it on with federal policies. also keeping the pressure on fuel economy standards. the transition will not happen as rapidly unless we do all those things. 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 is air travel. we're going to have to look and make sure we're pouring additional dollars into r&d at all levels in the transportation sector and in the electricity sector as well. i think that's another one of
the low hanging fruit pieces 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 i don't think we've done a good job of taking that research and deploying it. we're going to have to invest more money to make sure that happens. how important do you think i did a club recently that very little big policy gets through washington without bipartisan support.
i thought how do you hope to get republicans on board? >> i agree. if you're going to have legislation, new law at the scale we need, we have to aim to be as bipartisan as possible. i've been around here long enough to know that's a tall order, but i'm heartened by the fact that when you look at opinion surveys across the country, it is fairly bipartisan that they want bold solutions now. it seems like my republican friends are -- they're -- they're not reflecting the political will. certainly having the president of the denier-in-chief in the white house is no help at all. but that will come around. that would come around shortly. i hear a lot of bipartisan discussion on adaptation, mitigation, boy, the costs are
really adding up. carlos and i, you know, come from the state of florida, and people know, it's sinks in, their property insurance is higher. their flood insurance is higher. their electric bills are higher, because summers are longer and hotter people i saying, well, wait a minute. if i had some of this to invest in 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 wrong we're at the tipping point with republicans in congress right now, but i think -- i'm very hopeful we can get there. maybe it's a matter of, okay, what do 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
they're bought in early. we're going to try to do that. that brings me to my question about the relationships you're cultivating. adaptation is one issue. are you hope up for bipartisan conversations there? >> yes. yes. >> a bit better than the first committee, i know there was not so much. >> i am, i don't know ranks member graves very well, but we'll get to know each other. we certainly have districts that face similars issues with coastal, you know -- he has more wetlands loss out of his district. coastal louisiana, batten luge,
new orleans, than just about anywhere also. if that doesn't drive you to the tipping point of toe negotiation, i don't know what will. >> what conversations have you had with alexandria ocasio-cortez? >> i was hoping she would come on the committee. we haven't talked about policy. it was more about up hoping she -- but then the speaker appointed her 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 hr-9, hr-9 is the climate action now act that was -- 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. we're not going to cut and run. we're not going to break promises, america will remain in that pack 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, and it's being marked up in the foreign affairs committee tomorrow. it is select committees on the climate crisis is in essence the bold and ambitious quality.
likely to energy and policy and the just transition, some of the other things in the green new deal are probably outside of our purview, but this is going to be very ambitious, and we will -- the i can already predict the work product will have very aggressive goals. i think those are important value statements for their for what they intended. those will not 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. with a democracy, you have to vote.
i hope we can get into examines that. we're in the midst of the worse refugee crisis since world war ii, whether you're talking about europe, africa our right on our doorstep out of central america. gosh, we need a sane immigration policy, for one thing, but i think wes a leader, despite this blip on the screen. how do you hope to do things like that?
thank you to everyone who has taken up the slack while leadership here at the federal level has hit the pause button, but we will -- we will -- really we cannot tackle the climate crisis unless we have consistent policy, one that's based upon all your experience opinions. we have the latest ipcc report. that gives you -- one last audience question. what are your thoughts on carbon removal, as opposed to right at a smokestack. that's gaining attention in the wonky circles that all of -- i liken it to liposuction to the planet. it's icky, but it drives home
the point. do you think this is part of the solution? >> i hope we can develop in innovative technologies. certainly we'll be invests more in research and development. whether that is the best place to put it or whether that is something that private sector entrepreneurs will lead, i -- that's probably the case for now that the private sector will lead on that, but america is the largest funder of science. great, one last lightning round question. this is something i'd ask everybody else, so you guys have a head start on how you'll answer it. congresswoman, make the following predict, yes or no -- in five years congress will have passed a major climate policy. >> yes. >> thank you so much for your
time. i'll invite the former congressman. thank you for your time. as a reminder, he was the author of the first big climate tax policy introduced, and he's also he lost his race last year. i would argue that it was due to a lot of other showbiz, but they will quickly -- one thing i remember about his race that was -- just shows you the upsidedown nature of it said it
was dirty cole money, so think about that a bit. it shows the importance of climate change and environments issues to congressman's district, which of course is the tip of florida, miami so, you're definitely on the leading edge of republican thinning on this, but the caucus is not almost with you. where the caucus is on these issues. >> so thank you, first of all for this opportunity. thank you wri for asking me. i know kathy is gone, but being from florida it is wonderful that we have a floridian chairing this select committee. amy, i think we are light years away from where we are at the
end of last congress. i knew the last congress very well, can a lot of work on this issue. as you noted i filed a carbon pricing bill and build on the the caucus to have 45 republicans and 45 democrats. despite all of those successes, a lot of republicans were still getting to the point they were acknowledging the thread what you're seeing now is republicans are start -- have actually proposed solutions. i understand for those of us who get how urgent and important thinks, we're impatient, we might still be frustrated, but thinking about congress and the way congress typically functions
and evolves, we are in a much better place today. we're seeing, because, of course, the greatest fear that any member of congress has is to give so when i say take risks, i mean political risks. in a lot of these districts, it's hard to take these steps, but you have some lading indicators, like lamar alexander, like make gates, who is in the most conservative florida district and is leading in his own way on this issue. again, i think it's hard to say exactly where the conference is today, but i think it's very easy and obvious to say that the
conference is moving in the right direction. the emerging republican position is to support innovation. he we saw that from congressman katz as well, and senator alexander, also innovation was the key term. innovation doesn't just fall from the sky. you need money or market incentive or many economists would argue both. do you think innovation by itself is enough to make the difference with climate change that you think there should be? number one when they talk about innovation that means invest in mitigating climate change, again, this is significant for house ands senate reps, but i
think what is most relevant is you can kind of see the beginnings of what a bipart san agreement would like lice. republicans can describe that as a win in a potential bipardon san agreement, and on the other side of that, there might be carbon pricing or other policies that may help fund the research, and it could be a fiscally responsible bill as well. innovation alone is -- and some of the proposals are not realistic. they're just not plausible. where we meet in the middle i think is what matters most. as a reminders to the audience and those online, please be thinking of questions
and log into sli.do. we have very few votes, encouraging good democracy. you mentioned far-left policies. do you mean green new deal? >> it's a liberal vision for our country's commission. it has elevated this issue, and everyone is talking about it. the other great contribution is if you know congressional republicans well, you know they must always have something they can oppose. the green new deal is certainly made for congressional republicans to oppose. the good news is that after a republican addressed its opposition, the next question
from, you know, good reporters like you is, okay, what are you for? that's what republicans are in search of. now, in the fact they're searching for that and some of them have already found some answers, is very good newsage indicator we are aperforms or at least moves edward a bipartisan solution. >> what do you think it is? do you think it's ideology? do you think it's the fact that any climate solution would require a larger government role? what is it that's preventing you know, reps. another thing, you know, sort of putting on my devil's advocate
hat for this event, and there are concerns about higher costs of energy, which i think is a legitimate question, but there's a lot of others issues at play, including lobbying influence. that is it, and how will things change do relee that opposition? decades ago, this question was generally a scientific or an issue of science. over time it became a question of culture, and i believe this started in the wake of the 2000 election. and he made a number of
and that i think was born out of vice president gore's act investment, which again i don't criticize, i think it offers a good explanation for how how are republicans goods to credibly change their message, when they have campaigned for decades. which is, you know if year goal is to address climate changes, how do you balance that as this attendee said, with a history of not versus good faith on this issue? >> that's a good question, and i think for at least some
and they are more free to adopt -- i think you have seen that over the last few months can congress gonzalez of ohio so some of this will be the product of new republicans, because this divide in my ways is generational. a lot of young republicans believe we need to act on climate. >> one question i'm sees permeate that i also have on my list, this separation from acknowledges climate change is real, something should be done, but very few republicans are supporting carbon pricing.
my conversationings with republican and staffers are it's just too far for them. do you think it's an think these members are not going to support that? do you think they'll change their positions? >> i think carbon pricing is a natural 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, again, if you want to build a fiscally responsible bill, which theoretically is a priority for republicans, carbon pricing is a wonderful pay for and an appropriate pay for which gives you the double benefit, right, the revenue and the accelerated reduction in carbon emissions. so i don't expect there to be a
rush of republicans to carboning 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 trusts americans consumers to do the rest of the work. another major concern and legitimate concern for a republican is, well, when we sign all these agreements, we actually 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 country and if you adjust for carbon pricing at
the border, they will -- it'll be months before they adopt their own carbon pricing schemes to be at parity with the united states. 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 you here in the audience, raise your hand if you think carbon pricing should at least be part of the solution to addressing climate change? i think that's the biggest majority we've had so far. so economists love carbon prices, this room 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, very blue state most of it, anyway, and they -- they
that's for a lot of reasons, one big oil poured $30 million into fighting it but nonetheless, my anecdotal evidence, meaning talking to my family who they acknowledge climate change is real and are concerned about it, but my sister drives 80 miles to work and she's concerned about gasoline prices. how do you address these concerns by people who may -- who have to drive cars? we all live in a bubble and we should realize that how do you address these concerns and, you know, because i think at the very heart of it addressing climate change will have to cause some sort of increase in prices. how do you address that? >> so i think what a lot of voters want is fairness and they want to 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 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 is we repealed the gasoline tax as a way to say, yeah, we want to be fair. we're not going to double tax some of the lowest income people in our country and that 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'll be in congress because members of congress like to spend money and if it just comes in and out, that's no fun. that's like social security, right? there's no -- nothing exciting about that, but i do think it's another, you know, fair proposal. we also took -- took care of pretty much everyone in the coal
industry in our legislation because it's true and sometimes people on the left come off sounding really insensitive. like, oh, yeah, we got to get rid of coal. 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, so i always told people my bill is an infrastructure bill, it's a tax reform bill and it's revenue neutral. it doesn't add to the deficit because we price carbon and, again, this is not a bill that was seriously considered by either chamber but i think it -- it puts -- it puts on the shelf something that people can look back to and draw from. >> one last quick question from
the audience, you know, republicans, you know, there's a political question, so how will we overcome the real risk of being primaried? no one can expect members to a suicide mission. how do you blend the politics of sort of what you faced, you weren't primaried, but still you lost in bipartisanship in congress. but how do you face this risk of being primaried? >> the bottom line is you have to lead. you have to own the issues, you have to get out in front of them. you have to explain to people that this is increasingly a local issue, whether you're a farmer, whether you live in a coastal community, whether you depend on, for example, skiing for your livelihood, this is a local issue and it's going to affect people in their everyday lives and you go out there and you explain that to people. in south florida, it's a little easier because we're so at risk, right? city of miami beach installed
sophisticated pump system over $500 million, the city of miami just did a $200 million bond issuance to deal with tidal flooding and other sea level rise related challenges, so those are the things you have to point to to show, this is not a debate in theory. this is a challenge, a problem that we face as a society and we have to take action. now, of course, that action should be fair. it should be reasonable and it must be bipartisan. >> so, congressman, my last question for you, your prediction, yes or no, in five years congress will have passed a big climate policy? >> the answer is yes and i'll tell you why. every factor, every force that influences this debate, this discussion is pushing in the
right direction, whether it's the media and its growing coverage of this issue. i was on a "meet the press" show at the end of last year which was the first sunday morning show that was entirely dedicated to this issue. you have changing politics. a lot of younger voters that are demanding action both republican and democrat and also independents. you have forces within the congress, right? people reaching out to each other, having conversations and, then, of course you have the real-life effects of climate change that are waking people up to this reality. every single factor you can imagine perhaps with the exception of the white house is -- >> which is the biggest exception. >> is pushing in the right direction. but i'll tell you, when i was in congress, the last two years, a lot of the president's comments and actions actually pushed republicans to join the climate
solutions caucus because they didn't want to be identified with those kinds of comments and with those policy proposals. so even that inadvertently helped us in our mission. >> great. thank you, congressman and invite the panelists up stage to get that set up. thank you. [ applause ] [ no audible conversation ]
rachel cletus. policy director of the union of concerned scientists. next to her mary ann hipp. beyond coal campaign. director at the sierra club. next to her is dan leshoff. u.s. director of the world resources institute here in the u.s. and next to him is karen palmer of resources for the future. she's a senior fellow and a director of the future of power initiative. thank you all for being here today. i hope you've enjoyed the interviews with the lawmakers. i want to offer each of you just a brief couple of minutes to respond to a question for me about what you've been focusing on lately and rachel, i'll start with you. i was quite interested in a report that you guys released recently on the importance of keeping open existing nuclear reactors. to what degree are you comparing -- comparing this message -- conveying this message about nuclear power to the activists and politicians who are pushing the green new deal and other very progressive climate policies?
>> yeah, so the union of concerned scientists has for a long time been a nuclear safety watch dog, we're not an antinuclear organization and one of the things that we try to highlight in this report that you mention, the nuclear power dilemma that we released last year is that, unfortunately, as nuclear power plants in the united states are coming under market pressure primarily because of the low cost of natural gas as well as increasing energy efficiency and the falling cost of renewable we're seeing nuclear plants either retiring or being under pressure to retire and being replaced in many cases by natural gas and that means that carbon emissions are growing as these plants are being retired and our research is pointing out that we have about a third of nuclear plants that right now are uneconomic under pressure to retire and if they all were to
retire, emissions could rise by as much as 6%, co2 emissions in the power sector, so from a climate perspective that's a real challenge and we point out the need to have a careful approach that tries to keep these plants online through ensuring that they're operating safely, that they're not be given unlimited, endless amounts of money but really open up their financial books and are being given money in accordance to what's needed to stay online and at the same time, putting incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy to be expanded, as well. that to us is having this approach, having an approach where we're prioritizing low carbon, zero carbon energy resources in the power sector that is at the core of the solution to this climate challenge. >> great. as a reminder again to the audience please be writing down your questions and voting for them on slide dot do.
i'm sure i'm mispronouncing that and join on the conversation on twitter. as a reminder, #reenergizing. i'm sure some of you are doing that, but please keep it up. you think some of you have already been doing that. please keep it up. i want to turn to you mary ann, you're beyond coal campaign has a goal of eliminating coal within 11 years while the green new deal's coal appears to be eliminating all carbon in that same time frame. are you worried there's an increasing gap between the rhetoric and goals and reality of what's possible? >> thank you very much for all your great reporting and thanks wri for having me. it's an honor to be here. the sierra club, one of the niches in the environment, is we have a dramatically elected board of directors that's elected by our 3 million members and supporters and they have adopted the goal of getting all fossil fuels off the power grid by 2030.
and so the beyond coal campaign has been working for over a decade to first stop a wave of 200 new coal plants during the george w. bush years which we, again, with many, many partner organizations, with many grassroots folks all over the country who are worried about climate change, water pollution, air pollution, public health first stopped those new coal plants and turned to the existing fleet of coal plants and i live in west virginia, so i very much take to heart the comments about doing this in a way that doesn't leave people behind. i think that's an important part of the green new deal. that's an important part of the green new deal, but we are at the point now where we have over half the coal plants in the united states, 287 announced to retire and given the urgency of the climate crisis and the pollution that comes not just from coal but also from gas extraction and production and burning, we are working in ernst to try to get electric grid in this country powered with renewable energy by 2030 and given the progress we've made over the past decades, it's a
lofty goal but possible. >> mary ann, how much of the coal retirements would do to the natural gas revolution chi know sierra club also opposes? >> there's no doubt that the gas revolution created a lot of dramatic changes in the electric sector for sure and a created a lot of competition for coal. the reality right now is that we have a race in front of us for who is going to own america's energy future and we are doing everything we can to make sure that renewable energy and storage win that race because we have the biggest change in how we make electricity in america taking place right now. the biggest change since the industrial revolution, frankly, and it's a decision being made in states by cities and state decision makers, by grassroots leaders, by all the folks that are a part of the beyond coal
campaign. the future is up for grabs and we are doing everything we can to make sure that renewable energy grabs that future. >> dan, what would you say is a blind spot in this debate of decarbonizing both the electricity sector but also the transportation and the industrial sector? >> i don't know if it's a blind spot, i think one of the things that we need to consider is as we're decarbonizing the electricity sector, we're probably also going to see a significant increase or need to see a significant increase in total electricity demand as we electrify transportation in 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 existing end uses of electricity, which we should definitely be doing. but even with that, a range of studies show that transportation and buildings and industry are going to mean more electricity.
that's actually can be a very good thing, but it's something we have to plan for and that probably means -- i think one of the big friction points might be on transmission as we go to more renewables and the need for more electricity to decarbonize not just the power sector but the entire economy, we're going to need more transmission that will be a very cost-effective thing to do. there's a lot of issues around citing that. there's perhaps new technology that can help with that if we can use high voltage dc lines that are cost-effective to put underground rather than above. that would really help avoid some of the fights that we're already seeing. i would say those are issues that we need to bring in to the conversation. >> karen, how essential do you think a price on carbon is to any climate policy? >> i think it's crucial to climate policy because i think -- we talk a lot about the
different technologies that are going to need to come on board and the need to decarbonize but it's very hard to predict exactly what the solutions are going to be and so having a price on carbon is a way to provide an incentive to reduce carbon emissions at all margins or wherever they occur. having said that -- it also provides revenue that can be used to address various concerns that come up. we've talked about some of them, the just transitions issues and also just impacts on consumers as well. there's -- it creates a body of revenue either through a carbon tax or a carbon trade program that has an auction associated with it. i also think that we shouldn't necessarily think that that's going to be sufficient. i think particularly given the ambitiousness of what we need to do and how quickly we need to get it done that we're going to need programs related to research and development and
we'll probably also need other types of policy to encourage technology and a carbon tax can provide some revenue for achieving those goals as well. >> so the good thing about only having one microphone for all four of them is that they can't talk over each other. cnn should try to employ that strategy. a question for all of you and we touched on this in the previous conversation, a question on carbon capture technologies. former vice president al gore told me at the u.n. climate conference in poland last december he thinks carbon capture technology is, quote, nonsense. do you agree with that and why or why not? >> i don't think it's nonsense. i think it's important to not rule out any particular technology and to provide incentives through these pricing mechanisms. i think that there are --
because there's such a bold challenge right now that we do need to keep a lot of options on the table, so i wouldn't want to rule it out at this point. >> i agree with karen on that. i think what i would add is, when carbon capture was initially discussed a decade or so ago, the focus was on coal and keeping the coal industry in the united states alive and it being a pathway for coal. i think that's very unlikely. if you had a technology neutral, whether it's a carbon tax or clean energy standard or cap and trade and let the zero carbon technologies compete with each other, we would expect renewables to be the vast majority of the u.s. electricity generation, but for the last 5% or 10%, 20%, depends on the economics, it's very valuable to have a technology that's dispatchable and that's where
carbon capture could play really important role. it's -- the economics right now suggest that that's likely to be on natural gas. the other place where carbon capture could be really crucial is for carbon dioxide removal. we are now -- if we had started 30 years ago when we should've, we probably wouldn't need to be talking about removing large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. now we need to have that conversation. ir p ippc 1.5 report makes that very clear. and while there's a lot we can do with so-called natural climate solutions, trees are a great way to take carbon out of the atmosphere. there's only so much land in the world and we'll have to feed 10 billion people at the same time. we think there's likely to be a very significant role for technological carbon removal and then capturing that co2 and permanently keeping it out of the atmosphere. >> mary ann, is this something that the sierra club is supporting at all? >> a couple of thoughts on that
from my perspective. there are a lot of other problems associated with fossil fuel development that carbon capture doesn't address. if you're the mom of a child with asthma living near a coal plant, if you have coal ash related lead in your water, if you have a frack gassed pipeline threatening your farm, if you have fracking waste in your drinking water, there are many, many reasons that people are opposed to fossil fuels and supportive of renewable energy that just addressing the carbon problem doesn't address. mountains being blown up in appalachia, for example. that's one factor. i think the other is, we have utilities around the country now who are doing rfps in indiana, xcel in colorado, and are finding that new solar storage, new wind is cheaper than running existing coal plants.
so nipsco is going to retire their coal plants and replace them entirely with wind and solar storage and efficiency and demand response. they'll save their customers over $4 billion. so the cost of carbon capture when you're in this world of affordable abundant renewable energy i think from the sierra club point of view we'll focus our advocacy dollars and resources and smarts into doubling down on renewables. >> i agree with the earlier speakers. carbon capture could have a role. i think the challenge is when we get into this magical thinking arena where we think it's going to solve all our problems. the first line solution is ramping up zero carbon energy sources and energy efficiency, so a lot of renewables as dan pointed out, energy efficiency. the other thing is the power sector in particular is one that
is ripe for these types of low carbon solutions. we might need carbon capture in storage perhaps twinned with natural gas in the power sector where we might really need it is in the industrial sector where it might be very hard to decarbonize such processes. in the power sector, though, we have so many cost-effective solutions. we've got double digit cost drops and renewable energy, solar, wind, et cetera. battery technology. there's no reason that we shouldn't drive as far as possible to get to net zero in this sector deploying these resources, but we must invest in making carbon capture and storage more cost-effective, bringing down its cost, so there's a real role for public sector dollars alongside private sector initiatives to help drive down the cost of this technology if it is at all to be a solution. >> one question from the audience that leads to a related question that i have is that most of the discussions here
today have been on the u.s. and currently focused on its action, but what should the u.s. be doing to support developing countries and i think that's a good segue to the discussion of, the marginal cost of adding wind and solar is cheaper than a current coal plant but in places like southeast asia where their electricity is ramping up incredibly fast, the equation is a little bit different. for my column today, i did a story about a former secretary of state john kerry's effort to get vietnam off coal and one stat that was shared to me in that reporting, the 2 billion people that live in southeast asia have -- let me reverse that, the 350 million people that live here in america have six times as much electricity as the 2 billion people that live in southeast asia, so, you know, i would argue that you need -- people need to have electricity, first and foremost, and the next question is, for people like a former secretary of state john kerry is how do you make that as clean as possible while also addressing the impacts of
climate change on places like vietnam? what -- all of these organizations you have global footprints, so what -- what can the united states do to help countries get electricity and have it clean? >> that's absolutely true. we have millions of people around the world who don't have access to electricity and some of them don't have access to modern forms of energy at all. we're still living in a world of dire inequality. so just even having access to modern forms of energy is a challenge that in many countries is still being solved and that is such a question of quality of life, even life and death in some cases, so the u.s. should absolutely 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
on the climate resilience front, the u.s. and other countries, we have a great deal of responsibility, because in many of these places, the contribution to global warming emissions has been so small and yet places like mozambique just hit by a terrible flood, malawi, zambia, these countries are struggling. so we have to invest in protecting communities worldwide, as well. so the u.s. 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. and i will just add that i have
had the just tremendous honor and privilege of meeting the leading coal activists from most of the countries and continents around the world, where they are facing either waves of proposed new coal plants or pollution from existing coal plants. and you name the country, you name the continent. even the most difficult and oppressive political regimes, and people are standing up to the coal industry. and it's incredibly heroic and inspiring. and, you know, it's for all the same reasons people have done it here. because of air pollution, because of water pollution and because of climate change. but also in a lot of these countries, you have the added factor of the committees. in india, for example, big investments in coal, which are now quickly getting passed over by cheap renewable energy are suddenly coming back politically to have a cost for those who pushed for these, you know, big investments of public resources
in coal that now cannot compete even before they have turned the switch on. so i think the dynamics around coal around the world are shifting very quickly. and there are a lot of folks who can see now -- in europe and the u.s., other parts of the world that actually -- there is another solution and it's not only cleaner but cheaper. and they're racing to that solution. >> yeah. i agree with these comments. quickly add, one of the nice things about being at wri, it truly is a global organization. over half our staff are outside the united states. we have major programs in china, india, brazil, indonesia. and the conversation really is changing. so one of the projects that we co lead is the new climate economy work, which shows on a global basis that clean energy and transition offers a $26 trillion economic growth opportunity. so the conversation from -- you know, still within the u.n. circle as you get a little bit
of, like, well, developing countries didn't cause the problem. you should pay to clean it up. but in country, the conversation is much more about, gee, actually the low-carbon path is the only path to economic developmen developmen development. and, for example, indonesia like vietnam has been pretty committed to coal. we recently released a report on -- based from the new climate economy collaborative, in indonesia, that really flips that on its head and shows that the low-carbon path is actually the better, more rapid path to economic development. and that's the case that we have to make. globally. >> does that include natural gas? >> no, i mean, there may be a role for natural gas as a transition fuel. but really this is focused on transition that is, you know, consistent with 1.5-degree target, which means that if
you're using natural gas, it's not for long. >> i guess the one thing i would add is that in the rural context in really -- under countries that at the early stages of developing, i think there's opportunities there for lessons from the distributed energy movement that's going on here for ways you could deploy renewables in that context. and sort of bypass the big investment in transmission that would be needed to deal with bringing the coal-fired power, the gas-fired power to folks. you have perhaps the advantage in places that aren't really electrified yet of relatively low expectations about reliability. but perhaps some power is better and things ---in th innovations respect to storage and things can accompany those investments. >> a lightning round question for the panels.
yes or no, do you think natural gas should be a transition fuel? >> yes. >> i think at this point, it's a detour. i think we have built all we need and it's time to start switching to zero carbon sources. >> no. >> not in the u.s. i think as dan says, you know, we've built out what we need. some of this will need to stay online, maybe with ccs. but uncontrolled natural gas has no role in a 1.5 c world. >> you said no in the u.s. but maybe other countries? >> i think a very short transition. unfortunately, we have not left a lot of room for transition in countries that don't have the resources that the u.s. and other rich nations have. we have gobbled up that carbon space. so if there is a transition, it needs to be a short one. and we need to create the space
for that transition in the carbon budget. >> i think karen wanted to say something? >> the one question that i'm uncertain about is the role of bio gas in this transition. and so i'd just add that into the mix a bit in terms of that being a source of gas that might make sense. >> one very popular audience question is, of course, political related. you can't ever leave this town. this is such a politically driven town. we still have a whole year-and-a-half before the election. but it's all we're talking about. so that question is, if you could submit one climate-related question to -- and we can say for the purposes of this question, a democratic primary debate, what would it be? >> what is your position on -- what is your vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and confronting the climate challenge, and what role does
the surprise price on carbon plt vision? >> what's your plan for getting to net zero emissions before the middle of the century? >> what's your plan for getting all fossil fuels off the power grid by 2030 and providing a just transition for workers and communities that have been historically dependent on fossil fuels? >> or what's your vision for a bold climate solution that's also equitable, taking into account the fact that there are many front line communities, fence line communities, that have borne a disproportionate burden from our solution and dependence on fossil fuels, as well as communities that need help from a just transition as we move away from them this. >> is a good segue to the green new deal, which we actually haven't talked about that much, which i think is good. we don't want it to take up all the oxygen. but, of course, it is emerging as sort of the default progressive democratic candidate position on climate change, even
though it's pretty much whatever is in the eye of the beholder. so another "lightning round" question for the panel. on a scale of 1 to 10, 1:00 y b you hate it, 10:00 you love it, how do you feel about the green new deal, given what we know about it today? >> i think it sparked an incredible amount of conversations here in d.c. so on that score, i would give it at least an 8. but the details are yet to come. and those details are very important. especially finding a bipartisan way to get some of those pieces enacted quickly. so to me, you know, in terms of a vision and the conversation it's sparked high points, but now the hard work begins. >> for me, personally, i would say a 10. and the way that i think about the green new deal is we have to make this transition. we have to tackle the climate crisis, and we're going to do it in a way that we don't leave anybody behind.
and that everybody gets to share in the benefits of a clean energy economy. and i am so excited by all the energy behind it. and the fact that it has finally put this issue back on the front burner here in washington. >> so i'm going to agree with rachel i think i'll pick her -- totally agree with her comments. one thing i would add -- >> so you pick an 8? >> i'm picking an 8 for the reasons that she gave. one thing i would add is i think it added to the conversation this notion that our ambition should not necessarily be limited in terms of public investment. you know, a big debate to be had about what role it plays, how big a role it plays. but it sort of says -- and while i agree carbon pricing should be a key component of a comprehensive solution, the green new deal conversation has sort of said, well, maybe we
shouldn't limit our ambition in terms of what the public investment is to the revenue that you would get from carbon pricing. so i think that's -- that's a really useful note, basically. we're facing an existential crisis. we need to spend what we need to spend to solve it. and, you know, lots of debates to be had about how this plays out. but that's really helped reshape the debate. i think in a helpful way. >> so i'll start by saying, when i was a teaching assistant in grad school, i was known as a hard grader. so i'm going to give it a 7. and i'm going to say that i share a lot of the accolades in terms of bringing this issue to the fore and getting a lot of conversation started. everybody gets asked this question by reporters who work in this area, and you have to have an opinion about the issues, and that's important for our elected leaders and the rest of us. i also think it has a little bit of political brilliance in terms
of the other issues -- bringing other issues that people really care about into the mix. and sort of i think about those -- yeah, i think about having a job and health care. those are all important issues. and that it kind of helps to build a coalition, because i also agree that we're going to need to bring the public along. it's not, well, i think it's the responsibility of our elected leaders to deal with the technical issues associated with designing a climate policy. it's also important to listen to the people around the country, and that's part of what this new proposal and this vision is engaging people on. so -- it's important. >> it's interesting. it sounds like you think it's good that the green new deal has the components of universal health care and federal jobs guarantee. is that correct? >> for a conversation. for a conversation piece. do i think that the policies coming out of the committee -- the committee are going to deal with thosish use?
not initially. i think they're important for society. but i think it's important for just getting the conversation going and having it be broader. i think that the aspirations that are in there about getting to particular points by particular points in time are ambitious. they're more ambitious than the state of california. they're more ambitious than what sweden is doing, and they're starting from a more renewables starting point. but i think it's useful to have ambitious goals, and it's getting the conversation going. >> i want to jump off something that rachel said, this idea of bipartisanship. now, the green new deal is really taking off among democrats and progressives. i think i saw an iowa caucus poll that found that 85% of democrats in that state support it. there was another poll by yale that found republicans supported it, as well as democrats. i take that poll with a grain of salt, because it only included parts of the proposal. but at least here in washington,
the green new deal has become deeply polarizing. congressman cabello hinted at that, as well. and castro did to a lesser extent. i think the inclusion of the economic issues on health care and job guarantees is part of that. the ambition in the proposal also has contributed to this polarization. so how do you -- what are some ideas that you guys have for trying to make this a bipartisan issue? so i guess that's a two-fold question. number one, do you think you need republicans to address climate change? and if yes, how do you hope to get that? and if no, how do you hope to get around that, you know, governor inslee has talked about getting rid of the filibuster. things like that. >> so i do think you need bipartisan support for a policy, because i think it needs to last a long time. and there's a lot of political ups and downs in washington. and so something that has
bipartisan support is probably likely to be bigger and broader and more sustainable, i think, going forward. and how do you get it? i -- i'm not an expert on that. >> well, you know, my reflection on that is we need bipartisanship and, yes, and we need a plan. and so far we've only seen a plan come from one side. and from the other side, we have seen delays and barriers and the dragging of feet and trying to take us backwards. and so i don't quite know what the recipe for bipartisanship is when the democrats have a plan and the republicans don't. and i think in this upcoming election, that's what voters are going to be looking for, is a plan. an action. the urgency, especially for
young people, especially for people who have felt the impacts of climate change, which people are now feeling, or people who are living with fossil fuel pollution, is only going to escalate. and so, you know, i don't know that this is a generation of folks that are going to wait around forever for the other side to have a plan. >> i believe completely this has to happen in a bipartisan way. and i think earlier we heard representative castro and former representati representative cabello point to avenues of bipartisanship. there is agreement around renewable energy, clean energy in this country, whether it's a red state or a blue state. that's a great avenue to move forward. some of these newer technologies like energy storage could be real avenues of moving forward. climate resilience and adaptation, unfortunately, the impacts of climate change are already around us. billions of dollars worth of damage around the country. people are looking for solutions. i think this is an obvious place
for bipartisan work together. the other thing i would say, this is -- i'm not a beltway insider, so i'll just say, out on the rest of the country, the issues that people are thinking about are health, jobs. and these are all connected to climate. and that -- we can have an ambitious climate policy that's about creating jobs, as we transition away from fossil fuels, taking care of communities. we can be wrapping up forms of energy that aren't as polluting. and that means a great deal to communities that predominantly communities of color and low-income communities that bear the brunt of pollution from our dependence on fossil fuels. so there really is an appetite out there in the country, based on these daily lived experiences to move us in this direction. and our leaders hopefully will finally be leading the constituents based on what they actually want versus the tribal loilts th loyalties that seem to exist outside the beltway. >> that seems to go to two audience questions i have on my
list. one is how do we make sure that decarbonization is racially and economically just? i think here we have two competing forces. you have the impacts of climate change itself hit poorer people and often people of color disproportionately. at the same time, energy costs also impact those same people. so how do you ensure that this is done in a way that impacts those people least, and does it require policies like federal jobs guarantee and things like that? or is there a way to do it without wrapping it up with all these other huge policies? >> well, let's remember that the original new deal was not one policy that had everything packaged passed overnight. it was a decade-long enterprise, and there were many aspects to building support for different pieces of it. so i don't think anyone here is naive to think that everything in that green new deal resolution is going to be packaged into one policy and
passed. but what is true is that our country is simultaneously dealing with a climate crisis, as well as real crisis in inequality. and we see it in different ways around the country, whether it comes to health outcomes or job outcomes. and yes, we can have different approaches that actually manage to get us to not just a climate-safe future, but a better future where all americans can participate in this clean energy economy. this climate-resilient economy. and i think this is part of a broader struggle that our country is experiencing right now in a number of issues, where for the first time in a long while, people are waking up and recognizing, you know what, the civil rights movement isn't over. we didn't just pass a bill and everything became good overnight. we still as a country are grappling with long legacies and real implications in people's lives off that painful history.
and that includes where people live right now, and their exposure to climate impacts. as well as their ability to cope with those impacts because of either not having the resources or having other challenges like health challenges, et cetera. so really, we're looking for solutions here that don't just solve climate change in a corner, but actually solve it in an equitable way that brings along society with it. and that's the core nugget in the ipcc report as well, where the ipcc says very clearly, this is not just about a technological fix. this is about deep socioeconomic transition and transformation. that's the vision. we need politicians that will be bold enough to lay out that vision of the future, one that people really want to move towards. >> and i -- when we mentioned earlier the partisan nature of this here in washington, i think you look to the states and you see a very different story. illinois right now, there's a piece of legislation moving there called the future energy
jobs act that would really increase the state's ambition on renewable energy, put it on a bold and rapid path towards decarbonizing the power sector. and it was created by a coalition of environmental justice front line labor, environmental organizations. and has very solid, real policy components about making sure that the clean energy economy benefits communities of color, that fossil fuel workers have transition pathway. california, the city of los angeles, just made the decision that it's not going to reinvest in refurbishing three fracked gas plants but instead on community solar, a whole host of solutions that are both designed to be clean and just and address racial and economic disparities. and so i think we're seeing a
lot of very concrete, real forward motion on this from the states, which is the same place where we have seen the leadership to retire 287 coal plants in this country, and i think that those places are giving us a taste of the fact that this is -- it's not just possible, but it actually builds power, it builds coalitions and creates momentum in the places where they're doing the hard work of figuring these things out. >> yeah, i was going to add actually two other examples from california to look at. totally agree we can look to the states to see models of how this can work. 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 and at least 25% directly in those communities. also along with the reauthorization of the cap and trade program, from 2020 to
2030, is with passed a very ambitious program to specifically focus on localized air pollution. so that we're making sure that we are addressing the most polluted neighborhoods at the same time we're lowering overall greenhouse gas emissions. often that means focusing on diesel emissions and in particular freight corridors. or it means focusing on places that have been in the backyard of energy generation in the past and moving to cleaner sources. so it's a question of very intentionally building those kinds of policies into the framework that can address those issues. >> on your point about -- on the bipartisan -- on the bipartisanship issue and in illinois, for example, is a good
example of how there has been bipartisanship on keeping up with the nuclear powerpoints there. i believe the sierra club has been supportive of those efforts, at least at the state level. so sort of a question again for the panel, lightning round, to the extent possible. do you support generally speaking keeping open and passing policy to keep open economically struggling but otherwise operating safely nuclear powerpoints? such as three mile island in pennsylvania. >> i think that one way to do that, that would be cost effective, would be to expand the renewable portfolio standards policies to be broader and more technology-neutral. like a clean energy standard type of approach. i know at the federal level, senator smith is getting ready to propose something like that. and i think it's a way of
providing an incentive that will encourage those plants to stay online if they're operated cost effectively. so i think that would be the mechanism, perhaps, by which that could happen. and there's lots of ways you could design those policies. but -- >> yeah. i'm going to agree with that. also note that congressman lujan is working on a house version of that bill. so i think that's a very interesting proposal that could have a lot of benefits. we really have benefited a lot from scientists who work on this issue. i think their report on the nuclear dilemma is really extremely helpful, well done, very carefully researched. so basically defer to them on that. we do not take positions on any individual plants or state policies around that. >> as i mentioned at the outset, the sierra club is
democratically run. board of directors elected by our members and part of our energy policy is in opposition to nuclear power. so that's the organizational position of the sierra club. and we also have lots of chapters and folks in states dealing with very complicated situations around state legislation about a whole package of energy decisions. and so we look to those folks for their leadership, whether it's illinois or some of these other folks who have been in the state houses for decades who are the ones having to, you know, read, you know, every line of the legislation and figure out a path forward. and we try to have a process for those folks when they're dealing with those hard decisions that, you know, respects the local leadership on the ground. >> yes. in -- for plants that are operating safely as a first line solution, a robust price on
carbon or low-carbon electricity standard would be the optimal which to go. in the absence of federal policy, we are seeing states stepping in with a variety of patchwork solutions. our own view on that is that these should not be sort of unlimited in amounts of money and in terms of time. they should be done on a case-by-case basis, look at the safety record of the plant. there should be intensives for fishesly a efficiency and renewables, as well as workers ready to retire. and ultimately, the equity piece of it is important, because the costs of keeping them online are often being passed through to rate payers. so there are some real equity dimensions of handling the challenge in that way, especially for low-income or fixed-income households. so we need to take those aspects into account, as well. but in our current climate where -- as we saw through our
analysis in the nuclear power dilemma report, the plants that are retiring early are being replaced by fossil fuel generation sources. natural gas, primarily. so from a climate perspective, that is a very, very challenging situation. >> so just looking here through the questions, and i see a lot of commonality among this idea of to what extent 100% renewable electricity here in the united states is possible. so quick yes or no. do you think it's possible? technically possible? 100% renewable. >> 100%, zero carbon yes. 100% renewable, i think we can get up to 90-plus-percent. but it's the last bit that starts getting challenging. of course, this is not a one and done thing by 2050. i think we have to recognize that dealing with climate change is -- the work of this entire -- the century. so maybe not by 2050. but that's not a reason to rule it out over time.
we've got storage technologies improving, et cetera. but for 2050, i would say very close but not 100%. >> i would say yes. it's possible, recognizing that if we only know how to get 80% of the way there now, by the time we get to that 80%, there will be have been so much innovation along the way that that last 20 and then the last 10% will come into focus. that's certainly been my experience, working in the electric sector. when i started, people said we get half of our electricity from coal. it's always been that way. it's always going to be that way. and if we change that, everyone's lights will go out and everyone's electricity bills will skyrocket. and here we are, we're getting less than a quarter of our electricity from coal this year, in just ten years from half to a quarter. electricity bills have stayed low. everyone's lights have stayed on. and i think we would see innovation in that last 10% that would close the gap. >> but that's largely because of natural gas. the reason why prices haven't gone up. i mean, i was just in australia,
and their prices are all over the map, partly because they don't have natural gas. >> well, again, i think that also -- again, you have xcel, you have nipsco, these utilities that are finding when they do rfps for wind and solar storage, that's coming in cheaper than the cost of running existing coal plants. so i think that was true, and i think that is changing under our feet. and you know, we just, as you know, crossed that tipping point last year, where new renewables became cheaper than running an existing coal plant. and that's new. and those are some new economic winds that are back and some new momentum that we have now that we didn't have before that we can now take advantage of. >> so i would say yes, it's technically feasible. but very unlikely to be economically sensible. the last -- we don't know how much -- 20, 10, maybe only 5%, it will depend on the region, is very difficult to get to zero carbon that way. so to me, the goal is zero carbon. and that's what we should focus on.
>> i think the fact we're going to need to electrify other sectors of the economy, some other energy and uses, in particular transportation, maybe space heating and water heating and space cooling affords an opportunity. because those consumptions of electricity are things that could be scheduled or incentivized to happen at times when renewables are abundant and thereby raise the value of those renewables in the marketplace and deal with some of the intermittensy issues. so can we get to 100%? i don't know. but i think we can get further if we try to work on providing incentives for that demand to happen when it's -- when renewables are going to be abundant. >> here's a question with the most votes so far. and it's kind of related to psychology. so good on you, anonymous, for being relevant geographically speaking. but there's, in fact, a huge body of research on psychology of climate change, and it's fascinating, if you ever want to go into a rabbit hole.
the question is, how do we make climate change relatable and perhaps more importantly, easily understandable to help break down barriers? >> well, i think it's -- starting to happen with all of the effects that are happening around things like sea level rise, more frequent fires, more frequent storms. those are things that people can relate to and as cathy castro said earlier, your insurance bills are starting to go up, and i think that as those stories start to permeate on social media or in other forums, that will help make the potential threats associated with the changing climate more real to people, and that's part of the -- part of how it happens. >> not an expert. >> well, two things. one, kathryn heyho is a climate
scientist, who just gave a ted talk and said the number one most important thing you can do is talk about it, actually. talk about it with your families, in your social circles. that that alone can start percolating out in -- you know, broadly amongst our networks. and who is going to be talking to us about it is our kids. and my daughter is 8. she just participated in the climate strike. she stood up and gave her first speech of her life. and i wasn't even in town. i didn't put her up to it. she is worried about her future. she is worried about the polar bears. she is worried about, you know, the weather. and i think if we aren't talking to it, a lot of people kids are talking to them. and i think you saw that with these climate strikes. and that could be maybe the thing that actually gets people talking about it in a way that we haven't before. >> i think it comes down to people seeing it in their daily
lives. and unfortunately, now it's touching people's daily lives in so many ways with these extreme events that we're seeing. but i agree with mary ann. i think -- 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 know what's at stake. and they are -- that's why they're out in the streets on strike. they cannot understand why the adults have not taken on this problem and dealt with it. so maybe relating to climate change is an old people problem. maybe our generation -- there is a generational divide. because i think young people completely relate to it, and the implications it has for their future. >> and i tend to think a lot of the people who raised their hands saying they don't drive cars are probably -- just going to make a wild assumption, you're probably on the younger side -- younger than 30, maybe even younger than 25. but, you know, i've often written about how climate change
is fundamentally different phenomenon than say gay rights or gay marriage and things like that. and, you know, one big reason for that is you don't have immediate -- you know, if we do have price on carbon tomorrow, we've locked in so much warming that impacts are going to happen. so there is this idea that we accept, you know, big change now, relatively speaking, for amorphous change impact later. another psychology question. how do you convince people to make big changes when their impact is going to be diffuse and hard to pin down? >> i think, actually, this is a great moment to talk about these things. because people are looking for change. they're looking for change in their quality of life, their access to jobs, they have public health concerns. there are a lot of benefits of action. we don't have to wait until
2050. when we make this huge shift to renewable energy, that's going to bring a lot of jobs, a lot of economic benefits and public health benefits here and now. and this is true in the developing world, too. this is why countries like india and china are investing so heavily in cleaner forms of energy, because people are literally dying in cities from exposure to pollution. so i think there is a great case to be head in the near-term approxima about the benefits of doing this. the other thing is, there are a lot of things we can be doing on the climate resilience side as well that can have near-term benefits. we can be designing our infrastructure, upgrading our infrastructure that is desperately in need of investment, anyway. so you get those new infrastructure investments, but they're also climate resilient. so i think this is the two we really need to be talking about here. >> speaking for myself, i came into these issues fighting against mountaintop removal coal
mining in appalachia where they blow up the mountains. and i didn't know that much about climate change. and i realized, oh, it's not just the mountains in my region where i live that are being blown up. other people are dealing with air pollution and other people are dealing with -- and then the kingston coal ash bill happened. and i was sort of -- my entry point to start connecting dots that eventually led me to climate. and i think whether it's through some exposure to the health and, you know, property damages of fossil fuel pollution or it's because you get solar panels and you get an electric car and you think they're so cool. and fun. and amazing. at recognizing not everybody has that privilege and luxury, but a lot of people do. just put some solar panels on to reduce their electric bill and maybe try to be a good person and then they kind of get drawn into how all of this works and why doesn't everyone have solar panels and why isn't our energy policy making this easy for everyone? and so i do think that it's -- it is a real psychological challenge to get people to care
about something so big and broad and where your individual actions feel like, you know, they may not add up. and i think a lot of people can honestly get a little ambivalent and stuck there. but i think it's part of -- at least my job as an advocate for people wherever they're coming into this, because there are so many entry points to help connect the dots to the bigger picture. >> yeah, i think these cases where the climate solution is just better are really important. i don't know anybody who has an electric car who would consider going back to a gasoline-power car. it's just better. and there are exceptions. i know there are some taxi drivers in d.c. who got low-range electric cars and the infrastructure is not there. so that's a policy problem that we need to address. but nobody i know who has driven electric would ever go back. why do we tolerate open flames in our homes that create air pollution in our kitchens? well, old-style electric ranges
were terrible. but induction cooking is awesome. and we need to see more celebrity chefs on tv cooking with induction ranges and i think more and more people will start electrifying their homes as well. >> so i have another lightning round question. we're nearing the end of this event. so i do ask you try to keep your comments as brief as possible. i know that can be hard in washington. but i strive to do this. the mission of axios i try to bring to the stage. we're having this conversation. the backdrop is republican senate who is not considering this issue, a republican president that doesn't think climate change is a problem. there is shifts happening in the congress. but they're subtle. can you name one climate policy that is bipartisan that you also support? >> the -- oh. >> that you also support. >> well, personally, can't --
don't speak -- rff doesn't take positions. but -- >> or that you think is good policy. >> i think the clean energy standard discussions that are happening are good policy. and i think when you asked earlier about bipartisan way forward, i think that might be a way forward in the electricity sector, because it has a lot of the features of pricing carbon without directly pricing carbon. and we've done a lot of work at resources for the future that suggests that it can be fairly cost effective approach. so there's a lot of details to be worked out, but people are thinking about that, and i think that could be a good way forward. >> the regional greenhouse gas initiative is a bipartisan initiative, and very good policy. >> also not being from the beltway, i would point to the 100% clean energy bills that have been passing around the country in the states. >> i think there's real promise in the low-carbon electricity standard. there is some really interesting stuff having on the climate
resilience front as well that -- including at the initiative of the department of defense, who have been pointing out in various reports and ways and showing leadership and investing in climate resilience. i think there is a real opportunity there for bipartisanship. >> evgreat. and in my concluding lightning round question. a yes or no prediction from each of you and you know what it is by now, hopefully. in five years, congress will have passed a big climate policy. >> absolutely yes. >> yes. you know that about me by now, right? >> yes. >> yes. >> well, i'll just say no to be the disagreer. but i want to say thank you to the panelists and to everybody for joining us. [ applause ]
on march 24th, 1989, the exxon valdez oil tanker struck a reef in prince william sound and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil. tonight on c-span3's america history tv, we'll go into the c-span video archive to look back at the disaster. we'll hear from a former anchorage daily news investigative reporter talking about his book, "the spill." and then a senate hearing with exxon's then chairman. also the white house briefing by president george h.w. bush on the government's response. american history tv looks back at the exxon valdez tonight on c-span3, starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
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