This Earth Week, energy enthusiasts have a lot to be happy about. First and foremost, more people are realizing that energy is important and a major part of moving towards sustainability and net zero-emission goals. Nearly 60% of carbon dioxide emissions are caused by burning fossil fuels to power our cars, homes, and the industrial sector. Studies have shown that shifting to 100% renewable energy should keep the planet below the 1.5° Paris global warming target and can reduce annual pollution-related deaths by 4 to 7 million citizens. The severity of the impacts of climate change moved the energy transition front and center of discussions, especially after the recent events in Texas.
The White House recently unveiled the eight-year "American Jobs Plan", with a net cost of $2 trillion and $174 billion contributions toward a plan to “win the EV market,” Federal Transmission Investment Tax Credits, $180 billion of research money for the “technologies of the future,” the establishment of an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES), $213 billion on building upgrades and resiliency improvements, and $27 billion for a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator. The plan goes beyond the aforementioned list, tackling non-energy-related issues such as infrastructure development. I believe that the funds can help boost the energy transition and move the country towards the 2035 net-zero electricity and 2050 net-zero goals.
In Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey recently unveiled the updated version of the Green New Deal, a 10-year plan that focuses on decarbonization and a just transition. The deal also includes an additional bill, labeled as a component of the all-encompassing GND bill that is focused on improving public housing through electrification and repair of the over 1 million public housing units in the country, as well as removing environmental pollutants from the units and remove limitations on building more public housing. The housing bill is expected to come with a $170 billion price tag, while the overall bill itself does not come with any concrete price tags (Rep, Ocasio-Cortez herself has indicated that the bill needs to include at least $10 trillion for it to be effective, while some estimates indicate the bills could cost up to $50 trillion).
To top that, the current administration and congressional demographics suggest that the next two years are critical for the passing of bills that focus on renewable energy innovation, a just transition, and increased employment and financial growth through developments in the energy sector. More people are also getting involved and taking action, joining groups such as the Climate Reality Leaders, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Crisis Policy Team, Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, and 350.org, bringing citizens of all ages and from all walks of life together to fight against the changing climate.
2021 is shaping up to be a decisive year for energy enthusiasts. At the new Yale Student Energy Association, students will have the opportunity to play a role in the outcome of the renewable energy transition to ensure a just and equitable transition that protects communities from the harmful effects of climate change. At YSEA, you will have two choices: engage in educational discussions with like-minded peers from different backgrounds, or take a front seat and make decisions and take solutions-based action that helps change the Yale community and beyond, kickstarting the transition towards clean energy whilst picking up new friends and learning transferable skills in the process.
Writen by Vijjasena Sugiono