Decarbonizing Northwest Energy Systems

Eileen V. Quigley
March 28, 2018

Clean Energy Transition Institute Board member Ross Macfarlane and Executive Director Eileen V. Quigley co-teach a course during Winter Quarter at Western Washington University’s Institute for Energy Studies, called Northwest Energy Systems and the Low-Carbon Pathways, which explores what it will take to make the clean energy transition happen and whether we can get there without a radical transformation of our economy and political paradigms.

During the 10-week course we look at what is required to transition from a fossil fuel to clean energy system within a time frame that avoids the worst impacts of global warming. Focusing on the Northwest region, we examine existing electricity, transportation, and building energy systems and the challenges and opportunities for transitioning them to low-carbon energy sources.

We begin with a grounding in the complexity of the pathways to a low-carbon future; the barriers to transitioning; and the policies that enable the transition. We then explore the clean energy transition in action internationally and nationally, examining how cities, counties, and states can make progress in transitioning off of fossil fuel in the absence of national leadership in the United States, using case studies from local Northwest efforts.

We investigate the impact of citizen advocacy that galvanizes action for carbon emission reduction (e.g., 100% Renewable campaigns; Power Past Coal; Stand Up to Oil; investment portfolio divestment, among others), as well as the importance of corporate leadership in carbon pollution reduction.

We look at the need to shape public opinion to demand the transition to clean energy, explored how to build a clean energy workforce, and looked at how to protect society’s most vulnerable communities from bearing the brunt of the transition.

Following are links to the class materials for Winter Quarter 2018. We will post the materials for Winter Quarter 2019 in March 2019 at the end of the course:

Decarbonization Reading List—Reading list that Clean Energy Transition Institute Board member Ross Macfarlane and Executive Director Eileen V. Quigley developed for a course they co-taught during the Winter Quarter 2018 at Western Washington University’s Institute for Energy Studies. Readings and citations were current as of March 31, 2018.

Low-Carbon Pathways Overview—Presentation that offers an overview of the low-carbon pathways to economy-wide deep decarbonization, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on January 11, 2018.

Low-Carbon Pathways: Electricity—Presentation that explores the low-carbon pathways for the electricity sector, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on January 23, 2018.

Low-Carbon Pathways: Transportation—Presentation that explores the low-carbon pathways for the transportation sector, with emphasis on electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on January 30, 2018.

Decarbonization in Action—Presentation that looks at decarbonization efforts in Germany, the European Union, China, and the United States, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on February 8, 2018.

City-Led Clean Energy—Presentation that provides a chronology of city climate action in the United States and internationally and describes the best high-level roles and policies for cities to decarbonize, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on February 15, 2018.

Public Opinion and Climate Advocacy—Presentation that reviews public opinion polls about climate change; climate denial efforts; media coverage of climate change; the impact of weather events; and various clean energy advocacy and movement-building efforts, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on February 22, 2018.

100% Renewable Movement—Presentation that explores the concept of and controversy about the 100% Renewable or 100% Clean Movement and how cities and businesses are embracing it, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on February 27, 2018.

Clean Energy Workforce—Presentation that looks at clean energy job growth, utility worker retirement, transitioning fossil fuel workers, and economic opportunity for low- and middle-income workers, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on March 6, 2018.

Low-Carbon Pathways for the Northwest—Presentation that explores the low-carbon pathways for the Northwest in the context of existing deep decarbonization pathways studies, both for the United States and for Washington and Oregon, delivered for Western Washington University Institute for Energy Studies course on March 15, 2018.

Eileen V. Quigley

Founder & Executive Director
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