Duke experts discuss climate change decisions facing Congress
Three Duke experts will discuss how proposed legislation could affect the country’s efforts to address climate change.
quality and energy consumption. Welcome Professor johnson. Yeah, thank you Amanda and thanks everyone for joining us today and also joining us is eric Rohlfing. He's an executive in residence at the Duke University energy initiative. He formerly served as a senior technical advisor at the U. S. Department of Energy and worked with developing new energy technologies through the let's see if I can get this right Advanced research projects Agency for Energy or R. B. E. Welcome Professor Rohlfing. Thank you Amanda. That is absolutely correctly. And now that you mention the acronym, I can just AARP all day long, so glad to be here. There we go. All right, Laurie been here. Let's start with you. So Congress is considering some major bills right now, including the infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion dollar economic package. It's hard to even talk about that amount of money. Um How significant are these for our nation's response to climate change? Well, thanks Amanda. Um these bills are are critical for our ability to successfully respond to the challenge that climate change presents to the United States and indeed to the entire world. Um The international panel on Climate Change report indicates um that in order to keep the climate from changing more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, we have to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases to half of their original peak by 2030. So that is a significant pace of change. Um and these bills that bipartisan infrastructure bill which passed in the Senate and then the budget reconciliation process that's ongoing um provide critical funding that can facilitate um both the development of new technologies uh and the rapid adoption um at scale of existing technologies, including solar and wind power, and other forms of renewable energy. Um electrical electrification of durables like cars and water heaters in your home and um other um equipment that uses electricity, a natural gas, um and it provides a lot of funding to really do this at scale and at speed that's required right now to meet this challenge. So, um it's important to know that while the IPCC report indicates the climate crisis is dire, it's not hopeless, right? I mean, with these kinds of significant investments, um the United States can harness the resources we have at our research universities were a little biased towards those here at Duke, at our national labs and in the private sector to actually confront this challenge. Excellent, thank you. And we'll we'll come back to the speed and the skill required for these efforts. Um That's a great introduction. Thank you. My next question is for Tim johnson. Um would you like to add to anything that Laurie said? So, if this upcoming legislation passes, how important would this be? What's important? Certainly important as a start, you think about the sources of us carbon emissions? About 25% comes from electric power generation, almost 30% comes from transportation. Another about 23% comes from industry, and then the remainder is from homes, businesses, as well as agriculture. This bill that well the infrastructure bill and then the uh $3.5 billion dollar reconciliation bill really addresses power and transportation. Some of what includes gets at industry as well um and homes and that sort of thing. But the big ticket items, you know, address like I said power and transportation within power. The I think the signature pack, the component there is part of the reconciliation bill and that's what's known as the clean energy performance plan. And this is a federal level um plan that would incentivize clean energy production by U. S. Utilities would actually pay utilities to increase year over year the amount of clean energy uh that they produce and actually penalize them if they don't hit certain growth targets in that area. I'm importantly the infrastructure bill um uh which is set for a vote on the 27th uh in the Senate. Uh It sets aside quite a bit of money for grid enhancements which is which are critical for increasing the amount of renewable power generation um in the U. S. Um It also sets aside quite a bit of money for electric vehicle charging. Um And the reconciliation bill also, you know, it sets money aside to get for grid enhancements. Electric vehicle charging, Laurie mentioned, you know, transit in areas like that. Um So all significant. Uh you know, are they all we need no um there's always a danger that you should both bills pass that we'd say, hey, we've done enough because these are huge political lifts. We're seeing that right now. Um, but you know, as a start, they are certainly the most peace significant pieces of climate legislation that we've seen. Although that's not all either. Bill addresses Excellent, Thank you. That's, that's a great review. Um, so eric Rohlfing from a technology standpoint, how important is this moment if we want to reach our decarbonization goals in slow climate change? Yeah, well, it's, it's a critical moment. You know, we've been treading water as it were for some time now and these bills that are before Congress and one other that I'll mention, which is the annual budget appropriation, which also has a significant amount of impact on decarbonization. They're just, it's critical, it's a critical time. Um, the technical challenges associated with decarbonization say we want to dig carbonized our energy system by 2050 are, are significant. Um, you know, we, we, in a developed country like the United States benefit from abundant and inexpensive energy that has been driven by fossil fuels for the last century or more. And now we're trying to completely change that system. Um, one of my ex colleagues at Dewey Arun Majumdar is now at stanford likened it to changing the engines on an airplane while we're flying it. Um, it's that challenging. It's, it's an enormous, not only technical, but societal challenge to do this in the time frame of 2050. Um, and so both of these bills as as Tim and Laurie mentioned contains significant build up of critical infrastructure, whether that's electric vehicle charging or grid modernization, but the annual budget bill also contains a lot of new funding for advanced research and development, whether that's basic science, whether that's applied R and D new energy technologies, new energy efficient technologies or also critically important our public and private partnerships to scale up new technology. That's one of the major challenges of introducing new challenges into the new new technologies in the energy system is getting them up to scale. The scale of energy uses is huge and that makes you know the challenge even even greater, but it's a critical time. We we have to move forward. And as tim and Laurie said it's a great start but it won't be sufficient, but it's a great start. Excellent. Thank you. I love that analogy with the plane. Um uh now we'll take a moment for questions. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions in advance. You can also post questions via the Q and a window at any time and thank you to everyone watching on Youtube. So one of our, one of our questions, let's let's get into the specifics little more. Um This is a question for the entire panel, what is most promising to you and these bills, Tim? Let's start with you on this one. No, thank you. Um yeah, I think the focus on the power sector, the infrastructure bill. Again, the bipartisan infrastructure bill um $550 billion, $73 billion. That is set aside for grid enhancements, transmission uh electric power, transmission grid enhancements. Um And importantly it also sets up what they're calling a grid deployment authority, which sounds like another government acronym. Um but to build up renewables, that scale in the U. S. Requires moving renewable power where it's generated to where people are and those two don't necessarily overlap. So building out the power grid is essential to expanding renewables. And there's there are other challenges related to that. But by setting up a federal coordinating agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission handles some of this, but you know, to help break down some of the jurisdictional roadblocks and you know, again, you know, coordinated transmission build out that's significant. So that's in the infrastructure bill which probably has a better chance of passing right now in, you know, in its current form than the reconciliation bill, which is still being written I mentioned before the clean Energy performance plan. Um You know, under the record, within the 3.5 trillion, which is just mind boggling number reconciliation bill, would itself be, you know, really significant. That type of action at the federal level. Um about 3/5 of the states have what are known as a renewable portfolio standard that do something similar. It's a different mechanism but the intent is somewhat similar to try to, you know, incentivize or require a certain renewable power and grid, um what's being proposed to federal level under the C E. Pp. The clean Energy Performance plan would either pay or financially penalize utilities for not generating clean, clean energy. Um but nevertheless, like I said at the federal level, that's if that passes intact and it's not clear at well, um uh that would be that would be huge. Excellent. Thank you, Laurie eric, do you have anything that well? So those, those two things I would agree with completely, I think we can't underestimate the challenges of um of the transmission infrastructure that will be needed. Um if we do deep decarbonization, the location um where we might put our wind farms, the highest onshore wind potential right down the spine of the Great Plains, right? Um terrific wind potential. You got to move all of those electrons to where the people are living in California and in new york and other places. So, um the current infrastructure is built up to support the fossil fuel based electricity generation system that we have relied on, and it's not necessarily designed to support the renewable electricity generation that we will have in the future. And there's a lot of Not in my backyard nous about transmission infrastructure that you understand, right, people don't necessarily want it to go through their neighborhoods. Are there areas and there's a lot of jurisdictional sort of veto points. And so as 10 points out, it's really critical that we have some governance structures that can enable um these these infrastructure facilities to actually get built. Um I also agree about the clean Electricity performance program. Um it's interesting just to note that the reason that it's not being just replicating the successful renewable portfolio programs that the states have had is because it's part of this budget reconciliation process. Um and so it's not a standalone climate change bill, right? It has to go through this budget reconciliation, which means you have to be spending or saving a significant amount of money to qualify to be included in that process. Um And so rather than just strictly requiring utilities to meet certain renewable electricity standards, um they're actually inside incentivizing it through, through subsidization basically. Um and then I guess just to add one thing, so I'm not just repeating tim um there is provision to do more leasing up for offshore wind, which I think is potentially quite exciting as well um and has local impacts here in the Southeast as the southeastern part of the United States um is included in that and that leasing proposal for offshore wind. Excellent, thank you. Eric anything else. Well, I might, I might just add and I think tim had mentioned it and laureate mentioned it included in these bills is extensive infrastructure development for electrical vehicle charging, which is absolutely, I mean every decarbonization scenario that you look at starts with decarbonization, the power system and then decarbonization, transportation primarily through electrical vehicles, especially for passenger scale vehicles and so, you know, building up that infrastructure, making electrical vehicle charging access amenable and easy for everyone is absolutely essential. I mean right now, you know, we have to make it as easy to charge your electric vehicle. It is go to a gas station and fill up your tank. If we don't do that, then we'll never get to the point of the electric vehicle penetration that we need to dig carbonized transportation system. Mhm. That's an excellent point. We had a question from James downing about the clean energy performance plan. I think Lori may have already answered it. James, will you let us know if that's not the case in the Q and a window? Um another question that came up. So, so this week at the United Nations President biden spoke about the urgency of climate disasters. Do you think it's reasonable that we can cut our emissions by 50% by 2030. As the president plans, um what what needs to happen to meet this goal? Eric will start with you? Well, yeah, I mean that's that's an ambitious goal as is decarbonization by 2050 and you know, there there are various scenarios that tell us exactly how to do that, but it takes an incredible amount of investment, an incredible amount of will political will and societal will to do it. Um you know, my my specialty is more on the research side. So I might make some comments about some of the aspects of research development that aren't exactly in the bills that are in the annual appropriations process. That is um, you know, whether Congress facts on the reconciliation and the infrastructure bill, they have to by law and the constitution passed a budget every year which they never do on time, but they do pass a budget and included in that budget. Is are some interesting things, you know at the top, Amanda mentioned that I used to work in an organization called R. B, which is the Advanced research Projects Agency for Energy. The budget proposal from the biden administration creates an arba for climate RPc. Um which is in some ways acknowledging the fact that we're going to have to make systems more resilient. We're gonna have to mitigate against climate change against the impacts. Is looking at technologies that make our built infrastructure more resilient. That might do direct air capture of CO two that might do improved agricultural practices for putting more carbon into the soil, improving soil health and those kind of things. So, you know, on the research side, on the, on the advanced technology side a lot has to happen. We have to accelerate how quickly we move new technologies energy technologies or carbon capture technologies from the laboratory to practice. Uh and that's you know, that's been a long process for energy technologies. They don't move that quickly. They take decades and we don't have decades. So accelerating the transition of new technologies into the market is just has to happen if we are to achieve any of these ambitious climate goals. Yeah. Thank you. Uh Laurie, do you think do you think we can cut our emissions by 50% by 2030? Mhm. Well, you know, it's a stretch goal but the sure way to not do it is to not start right. Um and we've been kicking this can down the road for a very long time. I wish we could go back to the 90s and and you know, and do things more gradually. Um but we've missed that window and so now our choices really are we can spend money on the kinds of investments to dick carbonized our electricity system at scale and a rapid time horizon that are in these bills we can spend even more money um to adapt to climate change because were unsuccessful in mitigating our emissions. Um And so we're going to have to live with increased hurricanes and flooding frequency and wildfires and freak ice storms in texas. Right? And and have to spend money to essentially adapt to that. Um And so given those choices um I think that the the administration is doing the right thing by focusing on Um spending money now making these big investments um in research and in science and an infrastructure to to meet this stretch goal of reducing our emissions by 50% by 2030. Right, excellent, thank you attend anything to add. Sure. I'm just a couple of thoughts. The uh, biden administration under the paris agreement, which us has re entered um has set a goal star nationally determined commitment of 50 to 52% reduction in us carbon emissions across the board by 2030 Relative to 2005 levels. Um, so the question is, What would these two bills, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and then the $3.5 trillion dollar reconciliation package do well. There there's been a few analyses, um, The Senator Schumer's office released uh, analysis has said that together they would reduce us greenhouse gas emissions by about 45% over the next nine years. In other words, by 2030. Um, that's a little bit below the 50% reduction commitment that at least we have pledged under under paris. Um, but, you know, if we were to do that be significant, uh, you know, erIC mentioned R and D needs. That's certainly true. One thing to recognize though is what we're talking about here is infrastructure transition. So, you know, most of us own vehicles, um, there are power plants out there that are burning fossil fuels that are not that knew that still have a useful life on them and, you know, the owners, investors and them are expecting, uh, return over more than the next, uh, you know, eight or nine years. In other words, we have, you know, we've invested a lot in the infrastructure we have today and some of that's going to have to be retired prematurely. Um, and so that's, you know, that, that stranded investment of the sunk cost and it, you know, that, that has to be, uh, you know, dealt with or at least people acknowledge it, but it, that's, that turnover is significant. Um, may not be ready to buy a new car even though, you know, what we need is more people to buy electric vehicles. Um, and of course, there are subsidies actually very generous subsidies under the reconciliation bill for things like, you know, evey purchases. Um, uh, it's domestic manufactured with union labor. You can get up to what's a little over $12,000 You know, uh, you know, tax credit for electric vehicle, which is, you know, close to half the cost of some of them on the low end. So, you know, just building on what my, my colleagues here have mentioned. Um, You know, it's together, you know, this gets close to that 50% target. Not quite, but it's certainly an important start. Excellent. Thank you. We have, we have a question that dovetails is something you just said to him. Um, so given the time that it will take to fully transition to cleaner fuels like renewables and hydrogen, how do you see the role of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas playing out in this area? Thank you joseph. Yeah. Um just at a very high level, you know, um if you think about the carbon izing, the economy, you know, energy supply and use are not responsible for all of our, you know, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, but they are for a significant share. So how do you reduce those emissions? Well, energy efficiency is at the top of the list. Next you try to electrify everything you possibly can transportation as eric mentioned, but also buildings to the extent you can industry, Well, if you can electrify things, you need to make that electricity as clean as possible, which really means renewables and all the things you need to do to to integrate renewables on the grid storage transmission enhancements, things like that. Um beyond that, you know, you have maybe advanced nuclear power, but then the question becomes, what do you do with with fossil energy? So under the energy performance plan, there is a emissions limit for what constitutes clean energy? Natural gas with carbon capture. So you're scrubbing co two out of the flue gas, combustion gases. Are there other ways you could do it with, you know, is one way now there's really only one significant power plant that's using carbon capture. This is something that an idea has been around for a long, long time. Um, you know, that would be one way that natural gas use could possibly continue under, you know, should all this as discussed become law significant uncertainties though regarding, you know, the cost associated with capturing carbon and then storing it geologically. A lot of issues there. Um, So, you know, natural gas, uh, might have a role, you know, in the future, You know, so it's not, we're not saying you can't use natural gas under the under these policies, but it would be difficult for it to continue. Natural gas is, you know, right now, given the power system, we have needed to compensate for variable energy, renewable energy resources like wind and solar California is keeping a couple or a few natural gas power plants online just to help balance out renewables there, um, as storage, um, and other grid changes storage, you know, on the grid increases. His other grid changes take place That need won't be as critical, but right now it is, and you know, we're only talking about eight and eight years and change here until 2030. Um, You know, I have a hard time seeing us turning off our natural gas plants that quickly. So I suspect it will be be around and by the way, you know, other forms of fossil fuels, you know, on the administration has set a goal to have all new vehicle sales, uh, be electric by 2035. So, you know, there's a role for petroleum, um, You know, at least through that time. But those are new vehicle sales and, you know, vehicles remain on the road for on average 14, 15 years. So, you know, there there will be a role for fossil fuels going forward here. I um and if I might add to that a little bit with respect to the carbon capture. Also, if you if you look at the deep decarbonization scenarios, there's always a vestige of fossil fuel use for various reasons, some of which tim mentioned in the power sector, some of which are probably in the transportation sector. You know, we we may be able to electrify short haul aircraft but not you're not going to fly transatlantic lee than electric plane ever probably. So you're going to need some kind of liquid fuel for that. Some aspects of transportation, it could be a bio fuel and in many decarbonization scenarios, biofuels are important component, but in all of these deep decarbonization scenario scenarios, there's always some negative emissions technology which is at this point, as much of a wish as it is anything else. It's a research project to figure out how to do direct air capture that is to take CO two out of the air and sequester it in the ground or to do something like burning bio fuels which are net carbon neutral and then sequestering the CO. Two that comes from burning biofuels to make power and that's a negative emissions technology. And most of these deep decarbonization scenarios Have some vestige of fossil fuel use going all the way out to 2050. That's compensated to make it a net zero-carbon environment by these negative emissions technologies. And that's, that's an area that they're still in the research stage and we don't know how to how to drive those costs down for those technologies, how to how to ramp them up to scale. Uh, lots of questions still about, you know, where you store carbon dioxide underground and so, you know, these are significant research questions that have to be addressed and have to be addressed quickly. Yeah. Excellent. Thank you. Um, I want to go back to the clean energy performance plan for just a moment. Um, are there risks that the plan will cost too much given the regulation of utilities that incentivizes and to spend as much as possible. Um This is a question from James Downing. He wants to know if that issue can be fixed in the legislation, Laurie um since you talked about the plan earlier, would you like to start with that one? Yeah. So, um, I think what the question is that in, in some states, including north Carolina, um the utility rates are regulated by the public utility commission, in exchange for giving the utility essentially monopoly power to supply electricity. And that's not true in every state, but it is true in about half the states in the country. Um, and north Carolina is one of them. So the question is under that structure essentially, they can go to the public utility commission and say, I need to raise my rates to cover my legitimate costs and my legitimate costs are that I need to get more renewable um, electricity, um, to meet the standards that have been set. Uh and so it would drive up electricity rates. Actually, one of the interesting things about the approach taken in the clean electricity performance program is that the funding for that additional costs for renewables actually comes from the program, right from the government as opposed to under a renewable portfolio standard, which is the more traditional approach we've seen at the state level that tim was talking about before, where it's just a mandate, you have to do it. Okay. And so then if it costs you more to actually supply electricity from renewables, you would be passing those costs onto electricity ratepayers, and because poor people spend more of their income on a higher percentage of their income on electricity, that's regressive. Right? It felt those additional costs and electricity fall more heavily on poor households when you do that. One of the sort of exciting things about this approach, right, Which is the subsidization approach is how does it get paid for? It gets paid for from tax revenue essentially. Um, and at least on the income side for those of us who make most of our income from things that you get a W two for the tax system in the US is progressive. So it's a different funding mechanism than we typically see with the renewable portfolio standards that have been adopted thus far at the states, maybe I'll just jump in and add one thing to what Laurie said to under the CPP the clean energy performance plan, um what utilities can do with the money they receive um you know, is limited so they can pass it back to ratepayers, you know, is, you know, in the form of relief, um but they just can't pocket it or send it directly to shareholders as a as a bonus. Excellent. Thank you. A follow up question. Um So do we think that cutting carbon emissions through renewables will raise the price of goods and services for the average consumer? Mhm. Is it hard to know, I guess there are, you know, in many cases now wind solar. Um and even sometimes paired with storage are cost, competitive with Fossil equivalence. It's not true everywhere, but where you have good solar wind resources that they can be, um those costs have come down, especially solar, just exponentially over the last 10, 12 years. Um and defying conventional wisdom is that existed around 2010. Uh So that's encouraging. Now, we're also talking about, you know, orders of magnitude more than we have today, and that poses challenges to again the grid, we've talked about that, but even land, you know, uh building and acquiring land to do this, we're talking about a lot of land for renewables, if we expand solar and wind, that much, of course renewables aren't just solar and wind geothermal and then the other forms too. But would they? Good? Yes, to an extent, although there are also subsidies here for renewables. One of the things that the uh reconciliation bill does is extends both was one of the production tax credit and investment tax credit for renewables that offsets their cost quite a bit. Um, and likewise, uh, you know, the clean energy performance plan, would, you know, uh, you know, subsidize, you know, effectively subsidize uh renewable production. So we're shifting the burden really to the federal government. And of course it comes back to taxpayers. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, at one form or another, we pay for this, right, um, and we can pay for it uh, through this kind of investment um approach, which is coming out of federal tax dollars, we could pay for it in other ways through increased prices of goods and services, or we can pay for it in terms of, you know, climate damages, right? But, uh, you know, at some level, um, I mean, I'm the economist, right? There is no such thing as a free lunch, like we're going to be paying for it, this um, direct investment approach, I think one of the potential advantages is that because it's a subsidization approach. Again, it's coming the payment is coming from the tax revenue side and should mitigate the impacts on consumer prices to some extent. So, if I might, might pile on here, the goods and services question brings up what in my mind is one of the biggest challenges for decarbonization, which is decarbonization, the industrial sector? Um, there's a lot of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, used for feedstock and process heat and in the industrial sector and some of that may be electrified, but a lot of it may not. And so I think one of the biggest dick urbanization challenges going forward will be actually the industrial sector. You can see pathways for has been discussed by my colleagues, the power sector for transportation, through electrification. Uh, the industrial sector, you know, things like cement, cement is incredibly carbon intensive. How do we make cement and other building materials with a much smaller carbon footprint? And we don't know how to do that yet. So, so will that mean that replacement building materials that are carbon free, that replace the men are more more costly? Probably, yeah, I mean, but as Laurie said, you know, what price do you want to pay? Do you want to pay for carbon free economy that doesn't continue to burn up the world? Or do you want to face the consequences of climate change? Excellent points. So, sorry, just to add a as we're talking about consumers and um, an industry, um, you know, one of the, one of the concerns with this approach, which is the spending approach? Right? So both the infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation bill, Um rather than a sort of more comprehensive climate change bill that would then require 60 votes in the Senate, which we don't think we're going to get and we're not going that direction is you can put a lot of resources out there, but if consumers don't respond to them, it's not clear what we're going to accomplish. So, you know, economists are always arguing, we need to put a price on carbon so that it provides the right incentives for people to then by the electric vehicle or weatherize their house. And yes, the subsidies will help, right, you know, subsidizing electric vehicles, makes it relatively less expensive. And so people um might choose to make that decision that way. But, you know, for example, the weatherization program that's in um the infrastructure bill, They did that in 2008 and 2009 in the Obama administration with the stimulus package. And they had very little uptake. Um so they're basically offering poor households like, you know, free weatherization services, um and it didn't really work. Uh and so if we can't get the consumer side right, you know, even if if the money is available, it's gonna be hard for some of these changes to happen. Thank you. That's that's an excellent bridge to the next question. Um let's talk about equity, Um, how can elements of these proposals be implemented in a just manner um, like the weatherization plan or solar panel installation or electric vehicles, lori. Let's start with you. Sure. So the weatherization program is actually designed is targeted towards um households that are lower income or black indigenous or people of color. Um, it just um, they didn't have a huge amount of uptake in it during the last, the last round of this. Um, there's a lot of details that are just missing. I mean, these are, these are budget plans. I mean these are big pots of money right to be allocated. How they actually get allocated is going to determine the justice impacts, but there are at least a few things that we need to really be have the central as we think about implementation if we want to take this seriously. One as you mentioned is really the access question. Right? So when people are going around trying to sell you leases for, so rooftop solar, now they are targeting neighborhoods that are upper middle class or upper middle class, you have to have a credit score above 6 40. You have to own your own house. Right? So all of that effort is just missing. Um, the renters, lower income people, people with weak credit. Right? So there's just not the same kind of access. Um, and so thinking carefully through how we're going to use these monies to actually provide access opportunities for all households is going to be fairly critical and then there's a rural urban um distributional issue as well. It's come up a little bit a couple of times as people talk about the amount of land that we're gonna need to actually ramp up at scale things like solar or wind. Um and then we've talked a little bit about biomass as well. All of those have potential um land use implications that are likely to fall more heavily on rural populations. So wind farms, you can actually still, you know, graze cattle and farm the land around the winter rides. But for, you know, utility scale solar, you're taking up the land right? Um and um for biomass, you know, you're taking up the land for for the biomass production right? Whether it's wood pellets or ethanol or other forms of biomass. So there are pretty significant distributional differences in the the impacts of the land use choices that we have to make. Excellent. Thank you. Any follow up points. Uh Laurie mentioned the weatherization programs being targeted, uh the uh you see the same thing with electric vehicle charging, uh putting money, specifically tours, uh residential charging um in multi family housing units. Um and when the big challenges most people writing electric vehicles charge at home overnight. Well that works if you have a home charger, which means you have a dedicated parking space, a driveway or garage, a lot of people don't have that Or especially lower income people don't if there is an apartment building with a big parking lot or if they have just relying on on street parking. So how do you, you know, enable charging for people in that situation? Um, it's not just subsidizing the vehicle, you have to make charging feasible. So part of the money going to charging infrastructure um, is targeted, um, you know, in that direction, and they're also limits. I mentioned before, you know, the vehicle, electric vehicle tax credits as well, they're designed so that, you know, there was an income threshold, which is pretty high, but it's still there. And also, um, you know, you can't use them to buy super expensive luxury electric vehicles. Excellent, Thank you. Um So, another question, what happens if this legislation fails? What what did the, what does the next do the next few years, decades look like? Um if this is our policy window, it's hard to say, um, next year is an election year. I, you know, I would have a hard time seeing Congress taking up a big package like this, although who knows, they might. Um And then the 2024 election, you know, that we're gonna, you sort of have this small little window, you know, within the kind of presidential election cycle and the congressional cycle to where you can take on things like this? Um, I just don't know that we have the appetite, again, you know, in the next couple of elections. Yeah. And I again, you know, they're doing this With the infrastructure bill which has bipartisan support. Right? So that's great. And then through this budget reconciliation process um where we can only spend money or save money um in big in big chunks um because they I think correctly assessed that they're not going to get comprehensive climate legislation through the US Senate, you need to have 60 votes. And I don't think any of us predict. I mean, who knows what would happen with the midterm election, but I don't think, you know that we're going to get 60 votes after that. And so absent change in in in um congressional makeup, I think this is the best shock that people have. And so the consequence of not getting this done is that the US mrs its opportunity to um to avert significant damages from climate change. And we're going to instead have to spend money either more money later to try to play catch up or money on adaptation. Right. How are we going to live with the significant damages that the international panel on Climate change is predicting will happen if we don't reduce our CO two emissions and other greenhouse gases. Yeah, I would agree with everything that Laurie and tim have said um you know, if you look at the past history with respect to US emissions, they've dropped. But that drop has been the result of displacing coal plants with natural gas. And we've, we've, you know, we're gradually coming to the end of that. So, you know, without these bills passing without any additional funding for the kind of infrastructure and science and R and D we're talking about that is business as usual and that business as usual case just keeps emitting carbon and uh, driving the temperature up and suffering the, suffering the consequences. So this is a window of opportunity and, and we have to seize it. Thank you. Uh, eric girl, think this questions for you. Uh, what might this legislation mean for new technology and start ups? Um, and how about north Carolina? Yeah, So I mean the, the infrastructure bill in the reconciliation bill have a lot of infrastructure build up in them. And so I think there's some opportunities for startups again, as I alluded to at the start of this, you know, the regular budget process. Uh, the biden administration has a lot of new opportunities for, for startup companies, whether it's on the research end or on the public private partnership end here. I think about things like the Dui loan guarantee program which will be revived in this administration and hopefully well funded by Congress and the annual appropriation cycle. You know, we have to get to the point where smaller companies can partner startup companies can partner with the federal government with significant cost sharing to try to see if their technologies will scale. Um, you know, when I was at RB we I saw, you know, basically a build up of an incredible entrepreneurial community of inventors for new energy related technologies, great ideas that got as far as the laboratory and then died because of lack of funding for the next steps. Um and so I think, you know, maybe not so much specifically in these two bills were talking about, but in the annual appropriation process, there is significant funding for these kind of public private partnerships that allow startup companies to take the the important next steps and that that has to be part of what the government does to help these companies de risk their technologies. Um you know that the climate for venture capital investment in energy technologies is, You know, it when RB started in 2009, it was kind of the peak of clean energy investment. Um you know, there was a lot of investment in new solar companies, many of which are now bankrupt. And as tim pointed out, the cost of solar drop dramatically, um we can thank the Chinese for that, whether we want to or not, but we can thank the Chinese for that. Um and and so a lot of those companies just couldn't make it economically, you know, we're in kind of a similar situation now with long duration energy storage, which a lot of people think will be a key for, for enhancing the penetration of renewables. Um There's a lot of investment in that now. Um, whether it's rational or not, I, you know, I can't say, some, some are good investments, some are, but again, I think the government and funding by the government plays an absolutely critical role in helping the startup companies de risk their technologies to see whether they go forward. You know, that that was a huge gap we saw at RB uh, you know, start up companies that just couldn't find the critical follow on investment to start scaling their technologies. Mhm. Thank you. Uh, tim this question for you. What what might the legislation mean for north Carolina? How will it change energy production in the state or public transportation, for example, Public transportation is probably the easier uh, to answer, because again, between the infrastructure bill, which puts 39 billion into transit, um, you know, that's nationwide, of course, and then a fair mountain to electric vehicle charging and the reconciliation bill, whatever form it might emerge. Um, you know, does similar things, those that money comes right down to communities. You'll see that whether it's just turning over buses, you're placing gasoline, diesel buses with electric buses, um, you know, hence transit service, things like that. You know, we'll make a difference. Um, you know, at the end of the power level, it's it's harder to say because again, in north Carolina, as Laurie mentioned, we have a regulated utility market, um, and at the state level, Duke Energy covers most of the state as an investor owned utility and, you know, has a monopoly right to sell electricity. Um, it makes a little bit harder for, uh, you know, renewable developers to, you know, to, to join the fun to get in and, you know, we connect up to the grid, not impossible. Um, and Duke Energy has, you know, its own plans to, to de carbonized, uh, it's grid, but it's a little bit more difficult given the regulatory environment that we face here. And of course, you know, there are proposals, discussions out there about changing that. But for the time being this, this is where we are. Thank you. Um, anything to add to that. Uh, go ahead there. I was just going to say, you know, I think this funding in these bills for transit systems comes at an absolutely essential time. Right. I mean, the pandemic has crippled metropolitan transit systems and, you know, there are a vital part of, uh, you know, reducing the carbon footprint and transportation sector. So, you know, as a lifeline for existing transfer transit systems. I think it's really important. And I was just going to mention again that the, the inclusion of increased leasing offshore for offshore wind. So most of that is in Federal waters. So the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management actually handles the leasing for that. Um, but the coastal areas off the Carolinas are included in that proposal as well? Well, that's interesting, Laurie Bernier this question for you, how might we be able to tell if these measures in this legislation if they're working? Thank you for that. Yeah. So we're about to spend a lot of money um if these bills pass, uh and it would be prudent to make sure that we have some measures in place so that we can see which of these investments worked and which ones didn't. And we're not gonna win with every investment we make. Right. So it's not reasonable to expect all of them to to be a big hit, but it would be helpful going forward to know which ones work and which ones didn't work. And if you don't put that infrastructure literally data infrastructure in place at the beginning, it's impossible to know afterwards um what worked and what didn't work. So that involves as we think about the implementation plan collecting baseline data and having an ability to track progress over time, um understanding what the metrics are that we need to be tracking and then actually doing the evaluation and making adjustments to our programs afterwards. Um and we're um getting better at that, but we're still not particularly good at it, especially when we're thinking about trillions of dollars uh potentially being spent. Yeah, if I might add to that, I mean frankly, the US government's track record in doing that isn't great. I mean, if you go back to the American Recovery Act. I was in government at the time when that happened and it engendered a huge amount of bureaucracy and counting all sorts of stuff that didn't matter. So Laura is absolutely right. You have to figure out what it is you need to count. That is the right metric that tells you whether having success or not. And too often the government counts a lot of things that didn't matter anyway. And I can speak for someone who's in government, it was real pain. So, so we want to, we want to be able to count the right things and the impact that ultimately the impact is reduced carbon emissions. And so, you know, we we'll quantify that as we normally do, but more more specifically, we need to find out if these programs are working and if they're not fix them as fast as possible as Laurie said, these are huge buckets of money. Um, Congress tends to think that the problem solved once they appropriate huge buckets of money. But that's just the start of the process. You have to implement things correctly. And that's that's an enormous challenge when we're talking about spending of this scale. Yeah, I noticed that much of this reads as a wish list, especially in the reconciliation uh, bill is it's it's now. Um, and, you know, I don't think there's been any serious effort to say, where do we get the most bang for our buck behind this. So, uh and, you know, we've stayed within the context of the bills, you know, if we're thinking about optimal climate policy or, you know, there are other options beyond, you know, the kind of targeted spending, you see here, although a lot of it is is important, um, you know, a simple carbon tax or price on carbon emissions, which has its drawbacks, um, would and wouldn't, you know, guarantee a reduction in emissions, but at least would you let the market determine how to make those reductions? Mm, Thank you. That leads into our final question very well. Um, so for each of the panelists, uh, what's your best hope for climate-change measures in the United States? What would what would success look like in 2050? Um eric will start with you for this one? Yeah. So, I mean, you know, I'm not, I'm a technologist guy. And so, you know, typically that question comes to me and says, what's the winning technology? And there isn't one, you know, it, you know, you hear people talk about the all of the above approach. You know, I I think that's absolutely the right answer. We're going to need a range of technologies and the power side will need renewables. Uh, we'll need some burning of fossil fuels with some carbon capture. I don't know how much, I think we'll need advanced nuclear as well, um, you know, for this kind of firm carbon free power source, Um, you know, on the transportation side, electrification. Once you clean up the power system will get us a long way. Um you know, I think 2050, if we're not pretty close to net zero, we've failed. It's an enormous challenge. Uh particularly some of the industrial processes of decarbonization, those um so, you know, there there are a myriad of, of on the technology side of things that need to be developed rapidly, long duration energy storage, carbon capture mentioned, uh, you know, improved biofuels cultivation of biofuel crops that don't impact food production. Um, you know, just just a litany of things. And and as as I think Glory or tim pointed out, the first step is efficiency. None of the, none of the decarbonization scenarios, they all start with a significant chunk of that decarbonization coming from efficiency gains. Um and some of that is technical, but frankly a lot of that is behavioral um in societal changes that are required. So, you know, everyone needs to replace their their fossil fuel burning furnaces with efficient electric heat pumps in their homes, start driving CVS, etcetera. So, you know, I think we can do it. Um, but as we've discussed before, if we don't get started immediately with a big push, it's going to be very hard. Thank you, tim, would you like to go next? Sure, I mean, eric put it very well, um the only other thing I mentioned, I'm uncomfortable with just undisciplined spending, you know, you get in trouble at the household level if you do that, you get in trouble at the national level, at least in theory, if you do it um in the longer term, but you know, if we were to, you know, if both these bills were to pass, um that's a lot of spending that would create jobs and there's an economic stimulus in there as well. Um You're talking about, you know, a lot of boots on the ground type jobs and that's employment, so, you know, that at least would be that upside and the estimates on what the economic or employment benefits would be very a lot. Um Maybe you could say something about that as an economist, uh fortunately it's not my area, but nevertheless, you know, there are, you know, kind of benefits, you're really what you're talking about here isn't just changing the energy system, you're talking about changing the economy. Um and that's, there's a lot of disruption as we've mentioned, but you create opportunities as well. Indeed. Um So I'll just, I guess add a little bit um that uh I agree, you know, tim mentioned a carbon tax um and eric mentioned that a lot of this is behavioral, I don't think we can just spend our way to this because at the end of the day we are going to be relying on lots of individuals making lots of decisions. Um And so if we could get the incentives right on that side by pricing carbon, I think it would help. But politically, I mean, there's just the will is not there at the moment. And so I guess what I'm, what I'm hoping success looks like is we have some big investments on the science and technology side and on the infrastructure side and we get some winds and people start to see like, oh, I actually can drive an electric car and you know, I'm not going to get stranded on the side of the road and and people's views start to change and it creates a little bit more political space, Maybe this is too Pollyannish, but it creates a little bit more political space for us to then do the other things that we're going to need to do to complement this kind of big investment in infrastructure and R and D. Um, and then tim through the jobs one. To me, it's really hard. All of those jobs, estimates are just that estimates with lots of uncertainty also because a lot of times it's sort of construction or the initial phase where the jobs happen and then they don't necessarily continue. Um then you have to compare that to the jobs that people had in the fossil fuel industry. It's not exactly clear except that the economy, if we were successful will look different people will be working differently. Um, and in ways we can't even imagine. Um, but uh, but there will mean there will be systemic change from this, um, for all aspects of work, I hope that's true. Um, thank thank you everyone for joining us and thank you to our panelists for sharing their perspectives. If you'd like to attend future Duke media briefings, please email Duke News at Duke Duke dot E D. U. That sorry? Again, that's Duke News at Duke dot E D. U. In the meantime, please stay well and thank you.