Decarbonization, demystified

Drawings by Saul Griffith.

With wildfires in the West, torrential floods in Europe, parched reservoirs, and other dramatic signs that the climate crisis is upon us, we would all like to flip a switch and stop our carbon emissions so that we can save the planet for our children. But in a world full of fossil-fueled machines (and regulations that support them), it’s hard for many people to imagine the pathway to achieving net-zero emissions in time to keep global heating under 1.5–2.0 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. But that pathway can be simply stated: electrify (almost) everything.

It’s time to demystify decarbonization so…

Image thanks to @KingmanInk

About 18 months ago, before the pandemic and the historic US election, I changed my life from working on energy technologies that will contribute to the climate solution to working on the politics, policy, and communications side of climate change. I founded Rewiring America with Alex Laskey, another successful energy entrepreneur, to advocate for more aggressive climate policy and to work on regulation fixes, industrial capacity building, community activism and low-cost finance. These are the four critical things we need to solve climate change in an economically beneficial way that deeply understands that you don’t solve climate change if only…

I’m in Australia, where I’m from and am staying for the duration of the pandemic, which has led me to look at the earth from this vantage point.

In the Australian Academy of Science report “The Risks to Australia of a 3 degree warmer world,” the reality of climate science is well summarized.

“Limiting climate change to 1.5°C is now virtually impossible. A rapid transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions is required if the international community is to limit warming to ‘well below 2°C’ in line with the Paris Agreement. As with the COVID-19 pandemic, acting early and urgently…

As I write this, we have 75,000 seconds until Trump is out of office. Not a moment too soon (and years too late) for the climate. We are now in four years’ worse shape than we were when he came into office, and we are in a state of emergency.

Here’s the speech I would write for President Biden:

THE PRESIDENT

Good afternoon, everybody.

My fellow Americans: I stand here today to declare a state of national emergency. We are facing an unprecedented climate crisis, and we must act now.

The climate emergency is affecting all Americans’ lives and livelihoods…

(Warning/TLDR : You can’t fix the DOE in 1000 words)

Apparently, some corner of the Twitterverse has nominated me to be energy secretary. As an Australian who is not yet a naturalized citizen, I’m not eligible (I’d be 15th in line to the presidency, so no go), but it’s worth running the thought experiment of what I would do if I ran the DOE — only in this experiment, the world will be perfect and sweeping change won’t be prevented at every turn by a bad Senate set-up. …

How to rewire America to promote equity and create new jobs

Our study shows that switching to clean energy backed by renewables in the U.S. will create 25 million new jobs, most of which can’t be out-sourced.

Sadly, due to the pandemic, we now have the highest unemployment we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Many of those jobs will disappear forever in the post-Covid world, and others will take years to return to normal. But with great crises come great opportunities. Today we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to solve our current economic crisis: by switching to clean energy.

At Rewiring America, we’ve released a report, “Mobilizing for a zero-carbon America: Jobs, jobs, and more jobs,” that I wrote with my colleague Sam Calisch, in which we…

I’ve just finished a handbook for climate action called Rewiring America (also the name of a new nonprofit I’ve founded with clean energy entrepreneur Alex Laskey). You can get your own copy of it at rewiringamerica.org. We’re setting out to prove that electrifying everything will be not be only essential to address climate change, but also good for the economy, the air, our health, and the future.

Rewiring America takes on the American Petroleum Institute

The American Petroleum Institute, a national trade group representing some 600 oil and gas members, recently released a study claiming that a ban on fracking in 2021 would cause job losses reaching nearly 1 million in 2022. Rewiring America, a non-profit dedicated to electrifying everything to jump-start the economy and address climate change, has released a jobs report that shows that in fact a transition to electricity backed by renewable energy will result in 25 million new, good-paying jobs.

Rewiring America responds to the API’s claims, as reported by Fox Business, that…

Rewiring America is a new non-profit I founded with Alex Laskey, a clean energy entrepreneur, to help mobilize America to address climate change and jump-start the economy by electrifying everything.

We’ve recently published Rewiring America, a handbook for climate action, written with the help of Sam Calisch, PhD and Laura Fraser. In this book we approach the climate emergency from a new angle. We look for solutions, not barriers. We outline pathways to success.

We don’t begin with the question of what is politically possible, but ask what is technically necessary to make a climate solution that is also the…

I’ve just finished a handbook for climate action called Rewiring America (also the name of a new nonprofit I’ve founded with clean energy entrepreneur Alex Laskey). You can get your own copy of it at rewiringamerica.org. We’re setting out to prove that electrifying everything will be not be only essential to address climate change, but also good for the economy, the air, our health, and the future.

In the book, co-written with Sam Calisch and Laura Fraser, we approach the climate emergency from a new angle. We look for solutions, not barriers. We outline pathways to success.

We don’t begin…

Saul Griffith

Founder / Principal Scientist at Otherlab, an energy R&D lab, and co-founder/Principal Scientist at Rewiring America, a coalition to electrify everything.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store