Silver Linings Playbook
August 20, 2021
At Rewiring America, we are radically optimistic, and if you signed up for this newsletter, so are you. So read on for silver linings.
The climate news of the last week has been stark. UN Secretary General António Guterres called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report “a code red for humanity” with “no time for delay and no room for excuses.” Axios, with a clever nod to horror films, dubbed it the “climatology equivalent of: ‘We traced the call. It's coming from inside the house.’” And then came the news that July was the hottest month for the planet in 142 years of record-keeping, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation.
This is where you come in. If you’ve signed up for this newsletter, you probably are affiliated with groups that want to help address the crisis – your workplace, your community group, your academic institution. You’ve heard our case for why this is the moment for electrification. Please take a moment to explain it to someone else in your life and see if you can rally them or the organization or business they represent to sign-on in support of the Zero-Emission Homes Act of 2021, now working its way into budget resolutions in both the U.S. Senate and House.
While there’s a strong movement already built around a Clean Electricity Standard (which is now a Clean Electricity Payment Program with carrots and sticks to incentivize utilities to use more renewable energy) and electric vehicles, we’ve got to stand up for homeowners who don’t have the lobbying muscle of utilities and the auto industry.
A new poll from Yale and George Mason universities identified a large gulf between what Americans say they are willing to do to act on the climate crisis and what they are actually doing. This is actually good news if we can get momentum behind solutions. For instance: about 30 percent of Americans say they are "definitely" or "probably" willing to join a campaign to get elected officials to act to reduce global warming, yet only 1 percent of Americans say they are currently participating in such an effort.
In another poll from Navigator Research, Americans now say the most important financial problem facing their family is cost of living, including paying bills like heating their homes. This represents more opportunity to generate support for federal legislation to lower monthly bills by electrifying U.S. homes.
And a reminder, consumer rebates for zero-emission electric appliances have broad, bipartisan appeal, in part because they would lower utility bills. Our poll with Data for Progress poll showed:
- 90 percent of Dems and 59 percent of Republicans support rebates to lower monthly electricity costs.
- Nearly two-thirds prefer rebates for electric over gas-powered appliances.
- Even 63 percent of Republicans prefer replacing their A/C unit with a dual heating/cooling heat pump.
Take a look at what else they said in the full poll memo.
Dwell on this
Our own Saul Griffith gets the Dwell magazine treatment in a Q&A titled “Inventor Saul Griffith Wants to Electrify Everything Starting With Your Home.” You can share it on Instagram and Twitter and give us a follow while you do it. We’ve seen Saul’s art (see our Bringing Infrastructure Home Report) -- now see our electrification vision with Dwell’s art. Saul’s new book, Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for our Clean Energy Future, will be out from MIT Press in October.
The California Energy Commission is submitting new Building Energy Efficiency Standards for newly-constructed and renovated buildings, which if adopted by the state’s building standards commission in December, would take effect a year later.
The proposed changes focus on:
- Encouraging electric heat pump technology for space and water heating.
- Establishing electric-ready requirements for single-family homes to position owners to use cleaner electric heating, cooking and electric vehicle (EV) charging options whenever they choose to adopt those technologies.
- Expanding solar photovoltaic (PV) system and battery storage standards to make clean energy available onsite and complement the state’s progress toward a 100 percent clean electricity grid.
- Strengthening ventilation standards to improve indoor air quality.
Kudos to the CEC for visionary leadership.
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Thank you for reading!