Pushing Ahead with an Equitable Clean Energy Transition

Eileen V. Quigley
September 18, 2020

When we last connected with you, the COVID-19 pandemic was just taking hold, and its truly devastating impacts were still unknown. Much has unfolded since then—including our nation’s long-overdue reckoning with systemic racism, which calls upon many of us to examine our privilege and how we have allowed inequity to prevail nationally and locally.

As I write, the Western United States is on fire and it is dangerous to breathe the air throughout most of Washington and Oregon. This is partially due to our failure to act swiftly to curb the use of fossil fuel to power our vehicles, homes, and businesses. As with the pandemic, the impacts of our inaction fall most harshly upon those who can least withstand them and who have been systematically excluded from the economic opportunities and access to healthcare that make it easier to survive these catastrophic developments.

All of which is to say, we have an immense and urgent task to decarbonize the Northwest region swiftly and equitably. The Clean Energy Transition Institute is hard at work doing just that.

Advising the Washington State Energy Strategy

We spent the spring and summer providing technical advice to the Washington State Department of Commerce for the 2021 Washington State Energy Strategy. Our effort launched at the March 31 Advisory Committee meeting. We presented two webinars in May, one on May 13 that explained how deep decarbonization pathways modeling works, and a second on May 27 where we explored modeling scenarios to inform the energy strategy’s development.

For the June 11 Advisory Committee meeting, we reviewed how economic impact modeling would inform the development of the strategy. In July, we created four framing documents with sector-specific questions about how to decarbonize Washington’s buildings, transportation, electricity, and industrial sectors to meet the ambitious climate goals the state has established.

We also participated in three sessions designed to elicit policy guidance from Advisory Committee members. On August 25, we presented preliminary findings of the pathways modeling and on September 15, we introduced the emerging elements of the draft strategy.

The theme that runs through all of our Washington State Energy Strategy work is the importance of centering equity and economic recovery in our recommended policies and actions.

Montana Climate Solutions Council

Last December, the Institute and Evolved Energy Research presented deep decarbonization pathways modeling results to Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s Climate Solutions Council, which was charged with developing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare the state for climate impacts, foster innovation, and create economic development and workforce strategies for communities in transition.

This summer, in June and July, we worked with the Governor’s team to model Montana-specific results from our June 2019 Northwest Deep Decarbonization Pathways Study, which were incorporated into the Montana Solutions Plan that Governor Bullock announced on September 9.

Exemplars of the Way Forward

On June 30, the U.S. House Select Committee on Climate Crisis released Solving the Climate Crisis, a Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America, a roadmap for how the United States could reach a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, while providing economic opportunity for Americans. This 547-page report serves as an important blueprint for our efforts in the Northwest.

Closer to home, the city of Oakland issued its draft 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan on July 3, and it, too, provides an important model in that it is rooted in equity and deep community engagement. Right here in our backyard, King County, WA produced its 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan on August 26, a five-year strategy for Washington’s most populous county to confront climate change and support resilience in communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Welcoming New Staff and Board

We are thrilled to introduce our two Research and Policy Analysts. Aditi Bansal graduated from Columbia University in May with a Masters Degree in Sustainability Management. Aditi specializes in policy research and development for renewable energy programs, with a focus on low-income inclusion. Her interdisciplinary background in science, community development, and social justice provides a unique lens. As an immigrant to the United States, she also brings a valuable perspective to the climate justice field that enables her to center the lives of people disproportionately impacted by climate change.

David Paolella earned a Master of Environmental Management degree from the Yale School of the Environment in May. As a Yakima, WA native, David is passionate about helping the Northwest forge a path to deep decarbonization that the rest of the country can follow. His work is focused on bringing science, technology, and economics together to advance clean energy solutions that promote economic opportunity and environmental justice. Prior to joining the Clean Energy Transition Institute, David conducted research on air pollution at the University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and on transportation electrification at Rocky Mountain Institute.

In April, we also welcomed Bonnie Frye Hemphill to the Institute’s Board. Bonnie recently joined UMC, a Northwest mechanical contractor, to provide public affairs and clean economy expertise. Previously, she opened new markets for solar in the region through policy, thought leadership, and business development. Bonnie’s career started at Climate Solutions and includes work on the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine.

Doing Our Work

The Clean Energy Transition Institute is committed to embracing racial and social justice in our efforts to foster an equitable clean energy transition in the Northwest. As an organization led and staffed primarily by white people, we recognize there is much we need to learn to effectively promote and center equity in our research and analysis. We are committed to engaging in the work required to uncover our individual and organizational biases and to doing our part to promote a just clean energy transition.

Thank you again very much for your ongoing support. Your engagement makes our work possible.

Eileen V. Quigley

Founder & Executive Director
Full Bio & Other Posts