As the year comes to an end, we want to reflect on what has been done over the past 12 months and what’s to come. Throughout the year, climate change continued to be one of the hottest topics, from record breaking heat to new federal climate policies and clean energy triumphs.
Climate solutions need a people-centered approach to ensure best outcomes for everyone. While climate change is a global challenge, not all communities bear the brunt equally. In the U.S., non-white and lower income communities experience the greatest health, economic and environmental risks. If the solutions don’t embrace and uphold these communities, we won’t achieve the decarbonized future we need - and in that case, they’re not real solutions.
Cities and communities all over the country have been leading the real work on climate policy for years. Those efforts are getting a massive boost from the Federal government now through a series of major investments and initiatives. Foremost in our minds is the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, a huge climate win signed into law in August. The IRA invests $369 billion in clean energy projects and incentives for energy-efficient technologies such as heat pumps and electric vehicles. It also includes historic investments in environmental justice and economic development, calling for several new grant and incentive programs focused on righting past wrongs.
And we’re here for it. We are helping cities and organizations across the country learn about the funding opportunities coming available and how our Greenlink Equity Map can guide the distribution of these funds. Backing out to the global scale, investment in wind and solar power is outpacing the billions of dollars spent on electricity from fossil fuels for the first time ever, with global renewable power set to pass coal as the biggest source of electricity generation by 2025. The clean energy transition is happening, folks. Our daily work ensures that it takes place as intentionally and as promptly as possible.
These trends formed the backdrop to some of the largest projects we’ve worked on this past year. Here’s a few to remember:
· After three and a half years of work, Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded American Cities Climate Challenge came to a close. The Climate Challenge cities’ total emissions reductions surpassed the target of the Paris Climate Agreement.We analyzed the energy burdens and correlated inequitable outcomes for all 25 cities, assisted with policy and program analysis in most of them, and kept track of progress for the entire effort. We built new state of the art energy analysis programs and assisted with programs that will reduce childhood asthma from vehicle exhaust, create thousands of good-paying, high road jobs, and make energy affordable for all while simultaneously cutting emissions. What. A. Rush.
· Our GEM Community of Practice told us what they needed to see in order to make better progress on their equity initiatives and we went to work. GEM 2.0 launched with an improved user interface, new color schemes and correlational graphs, and new datasets. Two new novel datasets were deployed within the mapping tool - Urban Heat Index and Urban Tree Canopy, and more are still to come.
· We’re deep into the development of Better Power - the first-of-its-kind energy generation and carbon intensity forecasting tool using high-resolution hourly data to compare the investments, job creation, and public health impacts of various clean energy scenarios with business-as-usual trajectories. High resolution on the temporal and geographic aspects of energy use are key to making carbon accounting more effective and accurate - we often correct errors that exceed 30%. Hourly, localized information is the path to the future we need.
In 2023, we see tremendous opportunities to collaborate and enable the most significant community-driven, data informed energy action that has ever happened in this country because of the significant set-up work done in 2022. The historical focus on disproportionate burden will remain central and important, but new stories of job creation, local economic development, improving health outcomes, and first-of-their-kind initiatives to realize more just and fair outcomes are there for the making. We’ll see you changemakers out there in the new year!