April 21 2022
Team Incite

Connecting the dots on climate change, military defense, energy independence, democracy, and the global economy

April 21 2022
Team Incite
Source: Rewiring America

On this #EarthDay, we’ve curated a special Incite Post dedicated to big, bold innovation in climate change.

But first, a big idea. It’s 2022 and we find ourselves two months into a Russian invasion of Ukraine, grappling with a crisis powered by fossil fuels which has led to more than 2,104 civilian deaths and the displacement of over 10,000,000 Ukrainian people.

The link between this conflict and the underlying forces of climate change, military defense, energy independence, democracy, and the global economy are undeniable. On this #EarthDay, this global crisis challenges us all to rethink the fundamentals which underpin our current world.

You’ve read so many of our past Posts on the need to decarbonize the planet with climate-friendly innovation. What this crisis adds is urgency. We need to move faster, and further, to make these changes now. This crisis also affords us an opportunity to invest in American capabilities, and to lead in ways that only America can.

It’s time to supercharge our climate transition, to build new American industries that remove carbon, and make climate innovation a focus at even the most local levels. We need big, bold, coordinated action. And we should do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. It’s good for the planet and smart for business – and it’s also a national security priority.

Some folks like Josh Freed, Bill McKibben, and others have written to start connecting the dots on these issues. But we need more thinkers and doers to thread ideas, policy actions, and movement-building with intention and at scale. At Incite, we think this is a critical moment to move swiftly towards a climate friendly future. And it will require all of us – our ideas, our activism, our entrepreneurship.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve spoken with policy experts, entrepreneurs, climate and clean-energy investors, and civic leaders. We asked each of them a series of questions: How do we eliminate our reliance on risky state actors for nuclear and fossil fuel? How do we bring advanced manufacturing back to the US? How do we better champion clean energy adoption here in the US as a means of innovation and job creation?

A few early ideas are emerging.

Now is the time to reinvest in Made in USA manufacturing. We need to build domestic production capacity for strategic technologies like clean energy, infrastructure, carbon removal, batteries, and semiconductors. And we’ve seen some progress. Last week, the White House released an analysis showing climate change could cost the US federal budget $2T a year by the end of the century, and they’re making efforts to build a more robust domestic clean energy supply. But as many of the new climate tech startups in these industries will tell you – there's a long way to go.

Power grids and infrastructure across our country need to be future proofed. This includes building more renewable energy capacity to reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels. It also means integrating scaled storage capabilities, and protecting against cyber attack risks. We’re making headway, but still need to move faster. To get this done, we've got to bring local governments and civil society along to prioritize and shape how and where these projects are best deployed safely. 

For American families, we should incentivize electrification – from home heat pumps and induction stoves to EVs. For instance, the proposed Electrify for Peace plan would build heat pumps in the US, install them in Europe, and reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels. But a sea change can’t happen without a big push to better engage consumers. We have lots of work to do to shape preferences and expand choices.

We've also got a once-in-a-generation chance to reimagine municipal services in more climate friendly ways. Imagine EV charging infrastructure across all of our cities and highways. Or waste management that actually mitigates climate damage. And public transportation that helps more of us get around without driving, and without emitting. There is so much opportunity – and it will require more climate-forward leadership at local levels.

The stakeholders we spoke with shared an additional bold idea: we should deeply integrate clean power with defense priorities by taking steps like adding energy provisions to an emergency spending bill or a defense appropriations bill. Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) recently highlighted a few specific uses for the Defense Production Act, including production of polysilicon, heat pumps, and induction cooktops. And while Congress recently passed a spending bill which included $3.2B for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – there’s much more we can do to make the climate a priority within defense spending.

One small role Incite can play is to gather more of us in community to build on these ideas, collaborate across sectors, and give new initiatives momentum. Our aim is to convene the best and brightest innovators in this space to think outside the box and move faster and more nimbly towards solutions.

Want to join us? Do you know someone who should be involved? Or do you have ideas about how we can move faster on this issue? Get in touch to let us know.

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