Gina McCarthy
National Climate Advisor, White House

Continuing with conversations from the Center on Global Energy Policy’s recent annual Global Energy Summit, in this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor at the White House to discuss the Biden Administration’s climate agenda.

Jason and Gina talk through the Biden administration’s nationally determined contribution (NDC), the measures the Administration will prioritize to deliver those results, whether it can secure bipartisan support for related infrastructure investments, and how Washington will encourage large-scale deployment of zero-carbon energy and cushion the impact on workers in legacy industries. 

Gina McCarthy is the first National Climate Advisor—the president's chief advisor on domestic climate policy—and leads the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Previously, she served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and then as President and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She has been at the forefront of environmental and public health issues for over three decades, at the state and federal levels, and for both Republican and Democratic elected officials.   

 

transcript

[0:00:02]
Jason Bordoff:  Hello, and welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange weekly podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia university.  I'm Jason Bordoff.  Today, we continue with our conversations from the recent Global Energy Summit, hosted by the Center on Global Energy Policy, and I'm pleased to bring you my fireside chat with Gina McCarthy National Climate Advisor in the Biden White House.  We talked through the Biden Administration's new 2030 targets for emission reductions.  The measures the administration will prioritize to deliver those results, whether it can secure bipartisan support for infrastructure investments, with a climate focus and how Washington will encourage large-scale deployment of zero carbon energy and cushion the impact on workers in legacy industries.  We discuss all that and much more.  I hope you enjoy the conversation with Gina.

[0:00:52]
Gina McCarthy:  Thank you, Dean.  It's great to be here.  I appreciate it.

[0:00:55]
Jason Bordoff:  I want to start by asking you about your new role and what -- asking you about your new role, and when we hear the government talk about a whole of government approach, there are agencies we think of when we talk about climate change, the EPA, the Department of Energy, but what does it mean to put in practice a whole of government approach to taking on climate change?

[0:01:17]
Gina McCarthy:  Well, I mean, what I was asked to do is to make sure that issues of climate change were considered in every agency or decision-making body within the federal government.  I was asked to look at how we could make sure that the decisions weren't just influenced by climate, but equity considerations, which became very prominent and rightly so during the campaign days.  And lastly, to make sure that as we're moving out of the pandemic, this whole of government approach was how to rebuild our economy, how to jumpstart it and move it forward.  So climate had to be a consideration in that absence, as well as equity, but jobs needed to be a prominent mover of the decision-making.  And so, as we looked at the opportunities, I think what we saw was the whole of government approach was basically to take the opportunity we had to bring all of the decision-making bodies at the federal level, into a task force.  So that we can begin to explore how we consider, not just that transportation is about transportation, but how do you look at building your transportation bill -- your transportation system and investing it in a way that grows jobs becomes more resilient, recognizes, the adaptation and resilience investments that you need to make.  And how do you do that in ways that that grow the overall economy?

So it became an effort of saying that it's great, if you can pat your head, but rub your belly at the same time.  Think about these things from a human standpoint.  Jason, you know, that President Biden is a people person and so he refuses to let us look at issues that are singularly focused.  Instead of looking how human beings need to behave and need to understand and need to see the government understanding.  So the whole of government approach was really to force the entire cabinet in all of our other agencies and in organizational structures to work together, to think about more than one thing, and to do it from the perspective of we're getting off of the pandemic, let's focus on science, let's focus on rebuilding the economy.  And a major focus clearly is on clean energy, just getting there as fast as we can and rebuilding both our jobs in our economy as well.

[0:04:05]
Jason Bordoff:  Let me ask you two quick follow-ups, just on two aspects of what you just said.  One is about jobs, you and the president often say, when you think climate action, you think jobs.  Your critics will say that's easier said than done.  They might even suggest the Obama Administration over promised on green jobs.  What do you say to that?  And why is this time different?

[0:04:22]
Gina McCarthy:  I don't think we're even using the term green job anymore.  This is just jobs, and I think there's no question that people will be critical of this, but I don't think there's that it's an entirely different conversation than we had during the Obama Administration, because during the Obama Administration, we were arguing about whether climate change was real.  Now we weren't, but we were arguing with people who insisted that that was still an open question.  I don't hear that anymore.  Really the question is what can we afford to do?  And part of the -- what I bring to the table is what can't we afford to do?  What should we be doing to address the challenges of our time?  And I think Jason, you know, as well as I do that, one of the fastest growing job sectors was the clean energy jobs sector before the pandemic hit and renewable energy continues to be an increasingly larger share of the mix.

And the private sector clearly is not looking at the future with the kind of arguments that we used to hear.  The future is going to be who grabs clean energy and wins it, and we already know that because of disinvestment over the prior five years and the lack of even significant or sufficient investment before that has left the US legging internationally.  In terms of whether we are going to be the winner, and so there's this very little about the shift.  The argument is the sensitivity about who wins and who loses, who's left behind and not left behind, and how we do this in a way that's going to be fast enough to meet the moment that we find ourselves in, but also careful enough for us to recognize that in a transition there will be portions of the current economy that will be divested in there will be workers facing the need for transition.  And how do we, instead of dealing with that later, treat that as a now issue.  Something we should anticipate, something we should invest in, so that we understand the ramifications of this kind of a transition with our eyes wide open.  And we invest in it now instead of saying, oh, I didn't realize that later.

[0:06:52]
Jason Bordoff:  How do you do that?  I mean, that's something that's been hard for governments on both sides of the aisle to do not just because of climate action, but because of globalization trade, the idea that free trade will lift all boats, you just need winners to compensate losers, and we don't often make good on the compensate losers part.  How do you think about dealing with those dislocated communities?

[0:07:12]
Gina McCarthy:  Well, that's kind of one of the reasons why the whole of government approach is actually really useful because we were involved in trade discussions.  What do we do in these instances and how do we deal with them and what is in the best interest of our country and how do we express that with the variety of ways in which we could respond to issues of tariffs and taxes and other trade opportunities that we would have.  And so when you say, how do we deal with it?  The interesting thing about President Biden is that, he in -- during his campaign, he really made a significant number of promises that then he handed off and we have to now deliver, he didn't leave it all hanging out there and saying, “oh, just let's think about this”.  His first day he put out an executive order that really sent signals to the private sector and certainly send signals to folks like me that he wasn't going to go with Keystone Pipeline.

He was going to rejoin the Paris Accord.  He is going to make some heavy investments in the clean energy sector.  And he -- and it just kept building and building and he made some fundamental decisions that now guide us as we move forward and will guide our decisions on trade and on what we do with communities, what we call left behind.  So he made a decision that by 2035, we're going to have clean energy.  We're going to have a power sector that is zero emissions, that is a challenge, and it's a useful challenge but a difficult one.  We also have a net zero commitment in 2050.  We also have a commitment that he made on environmental justice and equity that said that we are now going to recognize that there are communities that have been disinvested in, are not properly invested in.

And we're going to turn that around by making sure that 40% of the benefits of our actions are accrued to what we call environmental justice communities as the black, brown, indigenous communities, poor communities that we all know and see, and have been watching degrade over time because they just haven't gotten their fair share.  So to me as a whole government, all this stuff means is that we now know where we're heading, and we know also that there was a basically a directive that said there are going to be job transitions there always -- already have been.  So you're going to actually acknowledge that you're going to do a whole of government approach to identify the communities that have been disinvested in because of the transition from coal and move forward.  And you're going to start thinking about designing plans to re-engage those workers and find them new things to do.  So out of the gate, we had defined millions of dollars to actually support a transition of lot of the coal industry jobs that were in Appalachia and in Montana and in Wyoming.

I mean, we're talking all over the place, frankly, and start thinking about how we put those workers to work in abandoned oil and gas well, or abandoned coal mines, because the benefit is obviously a climate one.  You can reduce the methane, but it also is the exact same skillsets and the communities where they live.  So where we have to now expand that, and we're moving to do that in a much more open, honest work with the labor community, work with the representatives from these areas and design strategies for broader regional economic investments that we can make.  And it's just sort of -- it's sort of a typical Joe Biden, honest look at things.  Okay.  If that's a problem, we're going to say, we have to fix it, and it's just for me, it's a blessing because I don't do well keeping secrets, and I'm always looking at what works and what doesn't and how you fix it.  And that seems to be the calling card of this cabinet, frankly is nobody's just looking at things with pink, bright little glasses.  We're looking at what's good and what's difficult and how do we tackle it.

[0:12:04]
Jason Bordoff:  I want to ask you about several of the things you just teed up, and you've mentioned both in that reply and in your first one, you know better than most could you been doing this for a long time.  The concept of environmental justice goes back decades, but it's risen to the forefront of today's climate change agenda in a profound way.  Can you talk about why that is, and you said 40% of the benefits to those communities, what the implications of that are for how the Biden Administration approaches Climate Policy, including if you could and I'm keeping track of the questions that are coming in in the chat.  One is about the concerns in environmental justice communities about some of the technologies like, nuclear or carbon capture.  How does the administration think about addressing those concerns?

[0:12:53]
Gina McCarthy:  Yeah, really good questions.  Jason, I think that most people probably know that I worked at EPA, and one of the things I tried to do when I was administrator was to really try to make the issue of the environment in general.  As well as, as climate change a much more personal issue, one that would be real and relevant.  It needs to be a kitchen table issue.  Now it's probably the most difficult issue to translate to a kitchen table issue of anything that certainly I've worked on, but the environment can't be seen as birds and bunnies kind of things all the time.  It really has to be personalized and I did the best I could at EPA to start talking about these issues as public health challenges.  And I did that because the data shows us that these are really the climate in and of itself is an existential challenge that's already having profound health implications, right.

Including deaths, but also including challenges associated with air pollution and increased heat and other challenges, and so I think the more that we can talk about these issues in ways that people will understand and it's not just about what happens to the planet by 2050, but it's really what's happening in my community.  That's important.  And environmental justice is a very clear way of showing both the health impacts and the inequities of those impacts from conventional pollutants, because they hit the poor and the communities the hottest, but also climate change.  They are the ones least prepared with the least resilience opportunities, and so it becomes I think it properly a major factor that came to light, obviously, during some of the trauma that we've been having with police confrontations and the black community.

And it just feels like a moment in time when it doesn't just need to be center stage, but it really needs to be elevated if we ever hope to address systemic racism in our country.  So we're not shying away from that issue and we also are recognizing that the benefits are going to be essential for those communities.  If we expect to get any fairness in the city about who benefits and who doesn't benefit from the actions we take, who's getting hurt now the most, how we can maximize the opportunities for those communities, so that kids can be healthier out of the gate and we can start looking at the places where resilience and adaptation is going to be so essential to actually design the cities and the communities of the future.  And so those are the ways in which we've been looking at environmental justice.  And you're absolutely right, Jason, in terms of the question that came in.  The environmental justice community, it has really made very clear in a number of different ways that their challenge is one where they want to get to clean energy and they want to benefit from that.

But there are ways of getting there, some of which they certainly liked better than others, and one of the challenges that we're facing is that, for example, when you look at technologies like carbon capture and sequestration or carbon capture uses sequestration, those are add-ons to fossil fuel use that can tend to reduce and manage greenhouse gases, but very little to reduce the other pollutants that are disproportionately hurting environmental justice communities.  So those are the challenges that we face.  They don't like cap and trade systems.  Frankly, I'm not in love with many of them either because they're too complicated and they tend to be so far away for me so far away from human beings and their conscience, that it doesn't keep to me climate at a level where it's personal and relevant, and I want to always keep it there.  And so it's very challenging and they have we've created our White House Environmental Justice Council that has been meeting.

They just put out a report that was very clear on what they liked and didn't like and so they are certainly looking to put their finger on the scale of this.  Now, Jason, as you probably know, the president is interested in all of the above strategy.  He really wants to make sure that we have options and opportunities.  Now that doesn't mean that he's going to be blind to the conventional pollutants or blind to the ways in which we can both have systems that abroad and systems in place that regulate traditional pollutants effectively to negate any continued the -- what I would say is the discriminating burden that some people have felt, but it is going to be one of those issues we're going to have to work through.  And there are folks that like some, and don't like others and I recognize that I'm probably one of them.  I have my favorites too, but we're going to do what the President certainly has directed us in what you see in the American jobs plan and others is we're going to do a lot of things and invest in a clean energy future and make sure we have the flexibility to use the technologies that are going to be available to us to get there.

[0:19:12]
Jason Bordoff:  Is that mean what you just said, there's another audience question, just as a follow-up asking.  So, given the concerns you expressed our carbon capture and director of capture and blue hydrogen, are those things in scope as solutions the administration.

[0:19:23]
Gina McCarthy:  Yes.

[0:19:23]
Jason Bordoff:  Yeah, okay.

[0:19:24]
Gina McCarthy:  Yes.  Yeah.  Yeah.  We've not taken anything off the table.  And honestly, the things we have to walk through is just combining those protections so that we're making sure we're not relying on anyone, but that those are opportunities that we should not pass up.

[0:19:41]
Jason Bordoff:  And the administration also, I think is reportedly seeking subsidies for existing nuclear power plants.  Is that right?  And why is keeping existing nuclear power plants so important for the targets you've set out?

[0:19:53]
Gina McCarthy:  Yeah.  Well, in many areas, continuation of the existing nuclear, as long as it's environmentally sound and it's permitted is going to be absolutely essential because we need the time to actually find a way to get a renewable energy, a bigger pot of the mix in those areas.  So it's a very stable base load system, and it's going to be essential in a number of areas to continue with that while we build out our transmission system and look for other opportunities.  Now, I don't expect those old ones to be around a long time, but I do expect them to be safe, and I expect them to continue in a way that's going to allow us to keep the greenhouse gas emissions down with really stable base-load capacity.  The one thing that that would not going to give up or keep our eye off of is the resilience we need in the system, the certainty that we need in the system and the affordability of it.  So we have to make sure that those base loads are covered and certainly nuclear and other facilities in ways of generating electricity are going to be important to continue with.  And so when we're not going to look at this naively and start saying, “let's shut stuff down and shift over”, we're going to do it in a deliberate, but expedited way.

[0:21:32]
Jason Bordoff:  And there are several questions about how the administration will achieve the targets that set out very ambitious.  At least 50% emission cuts by 2030.  Can you sort of talk through what the key pieces are of how one gets that level of emission reductions in the next decade?  And what -- how much is it the federal level, the state level what's done with regulatory authority?  What requires Congress?  And then we'll come to, what's going to be possible with this Congress?

[0:21:58]
Gina McCarthy:  Well, I mean, one of the challenges that we had Jason, was that when you -- when we rejoined Paris, we had to do a 2030 commitment.  Now we think we've done pretty well with the prior two.  We'll see whether the 2025 actually gets where we needed to be a nod it's close, but we felt pretty strongly that we had to look as carefully as we could with our eyes wide open to the direction of the president in terms of where he wants to see us land.  How can we get on a trajectory to net zero by 2050?  How do we get on a trajectory to get the power sector clean by 2035?  What are we looking at for opportunities in a transportation sector?  How do we look at our buildings differently?  And what's the capacity that already exists in terms of technologies that we can draw on.

We looked at our industries because industry is far behind, and Lord knows we need manufacturing in this country again, and we need to grab back supply chains that would seed it to other countries.  And to do that, we have to look at opportunities for hydrogen or CCUS and others to actually come into play in those areas.  And then we had to balance that off by looking at how do we use smart technology in the egg sector to actually capture more carbon or enough forest or our oceans.  And so all of those things were in play and when we looked at all of those sectors moving forward, it became very clear, at least to us that there was no winning or losing sort of combination, but you could use flexibility where you had to achieve more in one sector and recognize the length of time.

It might take in others to actually get to where you wanted to go, and so we looked at a variety of different ways in which we thought we could deliver on an aggressive target, which we wanted to have because the rest of the world was a little bit ticked off that we hadn't been playing for four years.  And so we wanted to get in there, but realistically, we think there are technologies that exist today that if we deploy them and we invest in a way that's going to send a signal to the private sector that we can do just fine in terms of reducing our emissions off of 2005 by 50 to 52%, the 52 is a stretch the 50 is less -- much less of the stretch, but it's going to be a significant investment need and that's where the American jobs plan comes in.

If we got what the American jobs plan wants to invest, we will -- it's really a transformational once in a generation investment that the president has proposed at a time when Lord knows transformation, which is what we need.  And so I'm really confident that when you look at this, you will see that yes, we need new technologies.  Yes, we're going to invest in research and development and innovation, but based on what we already know, if we change that money dynamic, if we start investing in it, if we use federal procurement, if we start recognizing that EVs are important, but consumers might need to have a whole lot more charging stations out there, and you may need to give some consumer rebates at the point of sale, so that people can get in the groove.

The electric vehicles are red the president today is at an event in Dearborn, Michigan looking at the first electric F150 truck, you know, and that thing's not a -- it's not like going to be inching along.  It like is going to be top rated for payload and towing.  We're talking about really ground breaking technologies, and the same can be said for the building sector.  And so if we can marry this American jobs plan investment, which admittedly is very large, but it's supposed to be.  We’re the United States of America, we failed to invest in ourselves for like, it feels like a generation to me because I'm multi-generational, as you probably know.  And if we can get our act together here, I think we -- I do believe will surpass these goals.  I think it's -- I think if we don't, we're going to lose and sort of the race to have the strongest economy in the world.

[0:27:01]
Jason Bordoff:  There's a lot in that infrastructure bill obviously, and as you said, lots of areas for investment and procurement and other things, but maybe one of the strongest things government can do in addition to investment is simply require that energy meet a certain standard for being cleaned by a certain year, and that is in there to a clean electricity standard.  Does that -- is that the most important part of the infrastructure bill?  And is that something that you think we'll be able to get done?

[0:27:29]
Gina McCarthy:  Well, I do think it's fundamentally important.  It's proven to be a terrific strategy for States and many of them have adopted different types of clean energy standards and none of them has struggled to meet them.  And when I talked to the folks in the utility world, they see a clean energy standard as being the most direct signal to them and the most flexible approach that will allow them to get there, where they need to go.  And so it will be -- I think it's one of the best strategies that we can use moving forward.  I also feel very confident that if we get it in a bipartisan bill and we move it forward, it's great.  If we don't and if the president determines that reconciliation is necessary, I think we can get it there too.

Because it’s ways in which it can be designed to actually pass muster in a reconciliation.  So I think it's important to keep it on the table, whether it ends up being the linchpin for everything else.  I'm not sure you need it, but we should want it.  And I think it gives every ability for utilities to actually achieve the kind of reductions that are going to be commensurate with the 2035 clean energy future for the power sector.  But we will see there's lots of other things in there Jason, I think you know, there's a lot of tax incentives that will keep renewables moving forward.  There's investments in the grid, there's investments in getting wet pipes out and getting water and wastewater where it needs to be, there's investments to try to transition 2 million homes and make them energy efficient.

We just did a great event yesterday with lots of a variety of agencies contributing to a pretty interesting strategy to actually move heat pumps forward.  We think that there's great opportunities, and as long as they're cheaper, we're going to be able to make this happen and they just keep getting cheaper and more efficient.  And so we're looking at lots of investment in our schools and in our transit systems, just getting back to where we -- what we should have invested in all along, but now becomes the opportunity to actually do that in a way that really reinvigorates a union brothers and sisters and that will allow us to grow thousands if not millions of new jobs.  And that's -- we lost 22 million during the pandemic at one time or another.  So it fits beautifully with a strategy that's going to be essential for us right now in this country.

[0:30:30]
Jason Bordoff:  There are a couple of questions also from people about where a carbon price fits into the administration strategy.  Obviously, something Obama pursued through cap and trade, many economists’ businesses, climate -- some climate advocates is -- does your answer a moment ago, suggest other approaches are preferred over a carbon tax, or is that still a possible thing on the table the administration would seek?

[0:30:54]
Gina McCarthy:  Well, it's not one of -- yeah it’s -- the way I always talk about it Jason, and I'm sure you recognize this is -- there's lots of ways to put a price on carbon.  We're updating our social cost of carbon and social cost of methane.  That's one way to do it.  Regulation is another way, and part of the challenge we have with just what most people call a carbon price.  It always comes with what can't I do, if I go in this direction.  And a carbon price will not get at all of the sectors that we need to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions that we'll looking for.  It just will not send the signal in some of the markets that are more elastic, and so if we go with a carbon price, which may be Congress will want to pass, which I think that's terrific, but don't tie that to a string of other things that we cannot do our investments we cannot make.  And if, so, I'm not disputing that a carbon price can't be beneficial.  I'm just suggesting that there are many ways to put a price on carbon.  And if you want to put a direct price on carbon through a congressional mandate, we will not appreciate that it ties our hands in other sectors, in terms of our ability to more directly regulate.

[0:32:26]
Jason Bordoff:  So does that -- sort of comes to a question I see here from Lisa Friedman at the New York Times, you mentioned the ability to set a carbon price in other ways, like the social cost of carbon through regulation, she asks, does the administration still intend to try to regulate the power sector through the clean air act, something, you know, better than most or would that only happen if a clean electricity standard failed to pass in Congress?

[0:32:47]
Gina McCarthy:  No, which am I saying no to that's what Lisa's going to have to figure out.  Let me be very clear.  We have a legal obligation to regulate under the Clean Air Act, and we're certainly gonna meet it.  We're going to regulate in the utility sector and do our jobs there.  We're going to regulating the manufacturing sector, which we often regulate, and we're going to regulate cars.  And so as we both know the utility world and the transportation world the big kahunas and greenhouse gases, they also happen to be the place where we have just a tremendous opportunity in terms of technologies available that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  So we're definitely going to do our jobs.  That's what we do.

[0:33:37]
Jason Bordoff:  The -- I mentioned earlier the new report out of the international energy agency this morning, net zero 2050 showing what is needed to get there, a warning of the rising gap between ambition and reality.  We have people from all over the world watching right now and you mentioned this a minute ago, the -- I forget the, the words you use that, that people sort of saw the US the credibility of the US.  What do you say to people who are concerned that the gap between ambition and reality may be true for the US do with our political flips and flops in the past from Kyoto to Paris, that they worry whether we can make good on the promises we're making now?

[0:34:19]
Gina McCarthy:  I think that that's, what's so appealing about President Biden's framing and the way he thinks about this issue, is that -- and let me step back just a little bit.  This issue comes up a lot.  Trust me in international discussions, people are worried about the US.  They're worried about whether or not even if we put all these changes in place and investments, it's an eight year investment window.  Are we going to be able to get all this done and stay in place long enough?  And I remind them of just a couple of things is that is in this is I think really important is that cities and states did not sit still during the past four years.  They kept moving forward.  And so in the US there's layers of government that don't exist in other countries that do provide quite a significant amount of stability.

And if you looked at what happened in renewables, just one example of the clean power plan that we got passed during the Obama Administration, before it even got out of the gate, the Supreme Court had sort of put their finger on this and held it back, but it really didn't matter in the long run, even when the prior administration decided to get rid of it, because it sent a signal and we do have technologies that allow renewables to be cheaper.  And if we keep advancing a system that provides more renewables to be constructed and a transmission grid system that allows the connectivity you want, it's going to be cheaper and cheaper and cheaper.  And there's nothing that wins better than cheap, right?  So the stability then becomes built into the system and so President Biden's framing is not about let's put our arms around the earth and hug it.

It's, let's figure out how our system achieves a more stable and safe and healthy future, but do it in a way that builds the infrastructure in the economic system that will make it benefit both by growing jobs and by delivering houses that are less expensive to live in.  Communities that are safer and more connected.  Places where people can get to work and get home again.  Technologies that perform better moving forward, this is not a sacrifice zone folks.  So that's why I think there's a lot of opportunity for us to both talk about the challenge of net zero 2050 and not be shy about it, but also to be enormously hopeful that as the private sector engages in the public sector, does its job to invest in innovation and to send the right signals about what we value and what we want.

If we build it into the system, it will not be taken down.  And so I do think we have every ability to go further and faster than all of our gurus and all of our universities, including this one who are brilliant, but we never anticipated that renewables will go as fast as they did before.  I think you're going to see the exact same thing with the technologies we're looking at that will get us to that 50 to 52% reduction in 2030.  And I think we'll do better.  We just have to build the system that lets that happen.

[0:38:07]
Jason Bordoff:  It’s I'm interested in, you said it's not a sacrifice.  So, and I think it was the phrase used a minute ago.  And one of the things I thought was interesting in the IAA report this morning, or behavioral changes about air conditioning, temperature and heating temperatures might need to be moderated.  Maybe people put on a sweater, the number of households without cars go up, people in cities shift from cars to cycling.  Is there going to have to be personal behavioral change and some sacrifice?

[0:38:34]
Gina McCarthy:  I don't know, Jason, that sweater thing reminded me of President Carter.  I don't want to go there.  I think what we really need to recognize is that we'll need more air conditioners cause it's going to be hot.  And so how do we get air conditioners first using different types of chemicals, which we're doing on the HFC front, but also even going further than that obviously.  And ground source, heat pumps, don't just heat homes, they air condition them, and so there's ways in which I think to even technology in that arena will get better and better.  So I forget your original question because I got so captured in seeing President Carter put his sweater on.

[0:39:23]
Jason Bordoff:  His cardigan sweater in the fireplace yeah.

[0:39:25]
Gina McCarthy:  Sacrifice just doesn't act as a behavioral stimulus.  That really works.  I do think as time goes on, you'll just see, for example, if you've driven an electric vehicle you'll realize the performance of that vehicle is so much higher than the performance of a combustion engine.  It's not even close, it's an experience that's very different.  And so you're right.  There will be investments like in transit and others where people will be able to get where they need to go in different ways.  And I think there'll be choosing those, not have them as fall back.  And so we just have to be looking at all those opportunities to get people where they need to go in different ways.

[0:40:15]
Jason Bordoff:  Can you -- the president also said, this is going to be a transition.  And maybe the piece of the IAA report that's making the most headlines this morning is that no new fossil fuel supply projects would be needed in a net zero 2050 scenario.  What do you think of the IAAs finding?  And how does that translate into reality in the US?

[0:40:34]
Gina McCarthy:  Yeah.  I think that's one of the things that we have to think about and struggle with.  I mean, there is no question that if you look at what happened with the Columbia pipeline how anxious people get-

[0:40:48]
Jason Bordoff:  Colonial yeah.

[0:40:48]
Gina McCarthy:  I'm sorry, the colonial, what did I say, Columbia, sorry, colonial.  The anxiety that people had waiting in line for gasoline for their vehicles.  So I'm not suggesting that this transformation is going to be quick, and I'm not suggesting that it's not going to be difficult to get to net zero by 2050.  I also know that there are a couple of hundred potential new gas units that are in the pipeline, and we have to think about those because gas is a fossil fuel as well.  And so we just have to look at this with our eyes wide open and look for opportunities for that transition.  But I think the is looking at this as first and foremost, we need a system in place that accommodates that transition.

And we need economies opened up in areas that have been left behind by simply getting broadband access.  There’s just so much that we can do and need to do to give people a sense of hope and opportunity again, and I think if we do that, those opportunities will arise, but I also I'm -- I really believe that there are technologies available now, and this, hopefully isn't a belief system, but just accurate reality that if we just invested in what we already know works, then we would make huge progress over the next decade, which is what we need to do, which builds us the time for innovation and starts building the momentum to make this a real opportunity.

[0:42:32]
Jason Bordoff:  Gina, thank you again for joining us.  Thanks to all of you, our listeners for joining us on this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange.  For more information about the podcast or the Center on Global Energy Policy, please visit us online at energypolicy.columbia.edu, or follow us on social media @ColumbiaUEnergy.  I'm Jason Bordoff.  Thanks for listening.  We'll see you next week.