These measures would mark the nation’s first major climate law if they passed anything close to their current form. Most notably, they include the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which uses payments and fines to encourage utilities to increase the share of electricity from carbon-free sources (see our previous explanation here).
Other speakers on the panel heading to clean up the power sector suggested creating that program. They included Leah Stokes, an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focusing on energy and climate policy; And Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor and energy systems researcher at Princeton University.
They argued during the session that legislation designed to ensure 80% of the nation’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2030 is more effective and politically feasible than a competitive approach, including the preferred carbon tax for many economists.
“When … we tell people, ‘We’re going to make energy, an essential thing for you, more expensive to use,’ it’s not very popular,” Stokes said. “That theory of political change stands against the reality of income inequality in this country.”
“A different example is, ‘Instead of making fossil fuels more expensive, let’s help make it cheaper to use clean things,'” he added.
But it remains to be seen whether clean electricity measurements and other climate provisions will pass and in what form. Even some Democratic senators in the narrowly divided Congress have left behind what they have portrayed as additional spending on bills.
For all advances in climate issues, well-funded and politically influential utilities and fossil-fuel interests continue to hamper efforts to overhaul power systems at the required speed and scale, said Julian Zhassey Noyes, vice president of policy and strategy at Data for Progress. , Who conducted the session.