Why America Needs a Clean Electricity Standard
And How You Can Help!
After seeing more news like this seemingly daily, Kara Swisher summed up best how I’m feeling this week. Whether it is the pandemic or climate change, issues that really shouldn’t be partisan have somehow become politicized, and we just shoot ourselves in the foot again and again. On the bright side, it also seems like there is more news like this and this every week, and that our determination and resolve to address this problem is starting to solidify. I know we will eventually get out of our own way and do what needs to be done, but as a species, we sure like to make things difficult for ourselves.
On the MCJ front, as promised last week, the survey results from our quarterly member survey are back. The details results are here. Here are some quick highlights:
More people filled out the survey than ever before (~17% of members responded)
NPS fell markedly from high of ~61.5 in Q4 to ~40.2 in Q2.
~56% agree or strongly agree MCJ encourages diversity and ~41% are neutral, though the numbers are slightly lower from non-white respondents.
On the NPS front, the marked decline is not something you ever want to see. The community has grown a lot during that time, which may be a factor. We are not sure yet the root cause. It is not like ~40 is a terrible number (though we do want to find some relevant community comps to compare it to), but driving this number higher will be a priority moving forward. Getting this hire in place will be a big first step. This community is way too important to not have a dedicated owner, and candidly, our little team has had a lot going on lately. We are in active discussions with several candidates, and hope to have some news on that front soon!
On the diversity/inclusion front, while we have put in meaningful effort to date, we know we still have work to do. To make meaningful gains improving DEI, we ask for the help and involvement of members. To that end, we invite you to join the next Town Hall on July 30th to discuss opportunities to advance this effort. In addition, the #dei-climatejustice channel in Slack is a place where members can continue this important conversation.
Part of the commitment to learning in public is making sure not just to report on the good news and exciting updates, but also the trials and tribulations along the way. We have lots of areas to improve with MCJ, and we always will! But we have also never been more excited about our vision, progress, and momentum. Whether you know it or not, we view you all as partners in this effort. We are excited to continue to evolve MCJ alongside of you, and thank you for your help and support along the way.
Jason & Team MCJ
What makes MCJ unique is the people in the community! We’re trying something new to take advantage of this, and each week you’ll hear from a different community voice about a climate-related topic. In the inaugural post, Gabrielle Jorgensen, Advocacy Director at Climate Changemakers, outlines why America Needs a Clean Electricity Standard.
America Needs a Clean Electricity Standard
by Gabrielle Jorgensen
Clean electricity standards made a huge splash this week after Senate Democrats announced, to much applause and fanfare from Energy Twitter, that they intend to include a federal CES in the upcoming budget resolution. The idea of a federal CES has been lauded by climate activists as one of the single most effective policy levers in cleaning up the U.S. electric grid, and possibly the most effective one that could realistically pass via budget reconciliation. By 2030, the popular “80x30” CES would bring carbon emissions to 80% below 2005 levels and reduce other potent greenhouse gas emissions by over 90%. It could lead to tremendous reductions in particulate matter pollutants, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives annually from cleaner air alone, and would deliver the largest benefits to Black communities.
There’s no silver bullet for tackling the climate crisis, but cleaning up our electric grids is a good place to start. With every public policy decision comes a series of trade-offs: fiscal and social costs, effectiveness, and political feasibility. A federal CES would occupy a favorable equilibrium between the three. It saves money and lives in the long run, and it appears to be politically palatable among Democrats without sacrificing effectiveness. Senate Dems have not released their draft budget bill, but there are two core characteristics we can expect to see in the proposed CES:
A goal of 80% clean electricity by 2030. This has more to do with the congressional budgeting process and is intended to translate into 100% clean electricity by 2035.
An economic incentive program that would require utilities to reach that “80x30” goal. It would feature a system of public incentives and penalties that ramp up over time, such that by 2030, continuing to source dirty electricity would be nearly cost-prohibitive for most utility companies.
These government incentives are precisely what makes a federal CES more politically attractive than alternatives like a price on carbon. The government can reward utilities for complying with the policy by issuing tax breaks or by deploying a credit system that allows for flexibility of decarb timing (though this could push the 80% timeline beyond 2030). The government can also use the CES to preferentially reward certain types of energy sources over others. For example, a utility might earn twice as many credits for sourcing electricity from renewables as from natural gas with carbon capture. This makes the CES a potentially powerful tool for the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels in the order we want to see them displaced.
The clean energy and climate tech industries would likely see significant gains from CES-catalyzed federal investments. Evergreen Action presents compelling evidence that a federal CES would create up to 2.2 million new clean energy jobs by the 2030s, based on economic gains observed at the state level. The seven states with the boldest CES policies have seen huge economic growth, helping create more than 72,000 jobs and over $13 billion invested in solar installations in just one year. As of 2017, almost all of the top 10 states for wind and solar jobs had implemented a CES. Scaling those gains to the national level would be transformational.
Of course, in order for 100% clean electricity to translate into economy-wide decarbonization, the next step is to electrify everything. That’s going to take significant federal investment in battery storage, alternative fuel sources, and other technologies that can facilitate the next step of the transition. But a CES is our best shot at laying the groundwork for future decarbonization. Electric vehicles and induction stoves won’t rescue us from a climate emergency if there’s still a natural gas plant at the other end of the transmission line.
We’re now closer to implementing a federal CES than ever before, but we need to ramp up the pressure on our Members of Congress. The bill needs 50 votes to pass, so the federal clean electricity standard must earn the support of every single Senate Democrat if Republicans are united in opposition. At Climate Changemakers, we meet weekly to take action together on Zoom in support of climate policy priorities, including a federal clean electricity standard. If you’re interested in building a habit of climate action in a fun and supportive community, join us!
This week, Jason sat down with Carbicrete Co-Founder & CEO, Chris Stern. The company's patented technology, first developed at McGill University, enables cement-free, carbon negative concrete production.
📢MCJ is hosting a Reddit-style AMA on How To Land A Job In Climate (7/26 12pm ET to 7/27 7pm ET). Our AMA host will be Janet Matta, Head of Climate Careers at Terra.do. Janet has more than 10 years of experience in career strategy consulting and coaching for job seekers in all industries and at all levels. Over the course of two days, tune into the MCJ slack and ask Janet your questions!
💼Job Seekers and Hiring Managers: Join Terra.do on Huddle to build your network in Climate. Huddle consists of weekly series of small-group, live conversations between you, others trying to get into climate work, and folks already working on climate. Terra.do is currently focused on bringing software engineers, developers, and hiring managers in tech onto the platform. Sign up for the waitlist!
💸The Climateworks Foundation is excited to release a new funding opportunity to support work at the intersection of climate/environmental justice and direct air capture. Orgs led by BIPOC or youth are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications are due August 17th. For more information visit their website.
🌱The Climate Direct team published their Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Removal this week, in partnership with Microsoft. It is meant as a guide for the CDR industry to scale.
For more positions and openings, check out the #climatejobs channel in Slack.
Looking for a CTO to co-found a bold new start-up that will transform the recycling industry
Yard Stick, which measures soil carbon, is in need of an SF Bay-area mechanical engineer
Two roles are open at Powerhouse. A Vice President who will lead business development, strategy, and execution and a Marketing & Operations Associate to develop a marketing strategy, support Watt It Takes podcast, and manage internal operations/events.
To help the development of our next-generation carbon capture process, Noya is hiring a materials scientist or a chemist.
Partner with Index Ventures to incubate a company at the intersection of fintech and climate.
📋Member Orientation (Thursday, July 22nd at 12 pm ET) Hosted by Thai Nguyen, to help onboard recently joined and existing members to the community. Attendees can expect a casual conversation about how to navigate the community. RSVP here!
👋MCJ Happy Hour (Friday, July 23rd at 12 pm ET) Hosted by Thai Nguyen, a casual MCJ “happy hour” for members to convene, meet new folks, and talk about whatever is on their minds. RSVP here!
🏫Town Hall (Friday, July 30th at 12 pm ET) For those new to the MCJ Town Hall, this is an opportunity for MCJ to share the state of the community and what it's working on. We also spend time listening to members and discussing topics of interest. RSVP here!
💭If you have feedback or items you’d like to include, feel free to reach out.
📨If someone forwarded this to you, sign up!