One Billion Machines
March 16, 2021
Greetings! We’ve gone dark for a few weeks here at RA because, as with the rest of the world, our attention has been fixated on Washington. Since the New Year, we’ve been busy presenting our data and policy ideas to help influence what we know is the only way to address climate change and create millions of new jobs and thousands per year in household savings: electrify everything.
We’re math geeks, and so far we’ve modeled not only how many jobs electrification would create (25 million in the near term, and 10 million long term), but how much each household could save per year ($1,000 – $2,500) on energy bills. Now we’ve dug in to just how many machines we’d need to install or replace to accomplish our goal of zero emissions.
One billion machines.
Most of those, it turns out, are already right in our homes – in our basements, hallways, garages or just outside – accounting for 42% of energy-related emissions in the United States. We currently have 550 million of these fossil fuel-burning machines: our vehicles, furnaces, water heaters, stoves, dryers, ovens grills and more. In order to meet our climate goals, we need to replace every single one of them with an electric version that provides the same utility and comfort (and that is also better for your health). And as we electrify these machines, we'll need to install 430 million more – breaker boxes, vehicle chargers, solar roofs and home batteries – to create the new infrastructure that can help supply and distribute all that electricity.
One other thing about these machines: they are appreciating climate assets. As we clean up the grid and get more of our power from renewable sources, these one billion machines will reduce more emissions with each passing year. In fact, we can’t fully transition to renewable energy unless we install and replace them. They are not “nice to haves.” They may very well be the most important component of the plan to win the fight against climate change.
The good news is that these machines already exist: we don’t need new technology or breakthroughs before we can have them. And we have the people power in our communities to manufacture, install, and service them. We just need to invest in this transition. And that is exactly what we are asking Washington to do now.
Are we up for the 1 billion machine challenge?
Over the next few weeks, we will lay out our plan in this newsletter to replace fossil fuel-burning machines in our homes, along with the policies that need to be in place to accomplish the switch. We have a window of possibility now that is open. If we push through it, we can save our planet.
Meet our Advisors
We’re delighted to share that we are assembling a stellar advisory board from all corners of the renewable energy universe – advocates, business leaders, environmental justice experts, policy wonks, and entrepreneurs. We’ll be introducing them to you over the course of the next few weeks.
Leah Stokes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She works on energy, climate and environmental politics. She completed her PhD in Public Policy in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s Environmental Policy & Planning group at MIT. Her recent book is Short Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the American States (Oxford University Press), which won Best Energy Book, 2020, American Energy Society, and was listed in The New York Times, 5 climate books from 2020.
Read more from Leah:
- Leah was on Ezra Klein’s podcast with David Wallace-Wells.
- She chatted with Jane Fonda on Fire Drill Fridays.
- And she has a podcast, A Matter of Degrees, about climate policy.