December 1, 2023

HKS alumni are working across sectors to address the many, complex factors involved in the climate change crisis. Watch this Alumni Talk Policy webinar to hear from alumni on the front lines of solving one of the most challenging public problems of our time.

Our expert panelists include:

  • Rob Werner HKSEE 2010, New Hampshire State Director for the League of Conservation Voters (moderator)
  • Judy Chang MPP 1996, Adjunct Lecturer, HKS, and former Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions, Massachusetts
  • Anne Kelly MC/MPA 1996, Vice President, Government Relations,
  • Ceres Jasdeep Randhawa MPP 2013, Legal Officer and Ocean Focal Point, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat
  • Bill White MC/MPA 2003, President & CEO, DEME Offshore US

The Alumni Talk Policy series features HKS alumni in panel discussions about pressing public issues.

- Good day, everyone. I am Karen Bonadio, senior Director of Alumni Relations. I'm delighted to welcome you to today's Alumni Talk Policy webinar focused on climate change. The Alumni Talk Policy webinar series features HAS alumni and panel discussions about pressing public issues. This webinar is being recorded, and closed captioning is available. I'm happy to introduce a moderator, Rob Warner H-K-S-E-E, 2010, New Hampshire State Director for the League of Conservation Voters who will kick off today's important and timely discussion. Thanks, Rob.

- Thanks, Karen, and hello, everyone. Thanks for joining our conversation today and for tuning in around the globe. We've got an all star panel today with a variety of perspectives and experience. So let's get to it. We have Judy Chang with us today. She's an adjunct lecturer at HKS and the former undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions for Massachusetts. And she currently has also works for the analysis group as a managing principal. We have Anne Kelly, who's the vice president of Government Relations at Ceres. We have Jasdeep Randhawa who is a legal officer in Ocean Focal Point for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat. And we have with us Bill White, president and CEO of DEME Offshore US, which is developing offshore wind projects. So a variety of perspectives. And this program today is an appropriate start because COP 28 in Dubai starts today, and that's actually gonna be the basis of our first question. So as I said, today is the start of COP 28 in Dubai. And if folks could please comment on the state climate action from a global context, and what are the main climate policy trends? And in your view, what will represent progress at this international gathering? And I should say that this is a particularly important gathering as the global stocktake is on deck, and we'll hear more about that. But Jasdeep, why don't we start with you in terms of this question and certainly your experience with the UN?

- Hello, everyone, and thank you so much, Rob, for that question. Also, just to state that I'm expressing my own opinion on all these aspects, just as a disclaimer. So just to go back to the Paris Agreement and what it represents, it's essentially an agreement which was signed by 193 countries originally to get to the goal of keeping the global temperature well below two degrees Celsius and aspirationally to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial level. And it's widely believed that we are now at the stage of implementing the Paris Agreement, which basically means that countries need to demonstrate climate action. To demonstrate climate action, there are certain signposts and enabling conditions provided in the Paris Agreement. One of the sign posts is the global stocktake, which Rob mentioned. Now what is the global stocktake? It's essentially an inventory of the collective progress that the world is making towards getting to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and the rapid transformation that is needed to get to that goal. And what the global stocktake work till date has shown in the last two years is that unfortunately, the world is not on track to get to 1.5. In fact, it's not even on track to get to two degrees Celsius. The recent nationally determined contributions, which are essentially the climate action plans of every government, and these are the voluntary documents that come from every government, but not so voluntary in the sense that countries are committed under the Paris Agreement to represent progress from every NDC to the next. And the NDCs essentially show that there is a large gap in the reduction of GHG emissions from what the IPC scenarios are telling us to what the countries are willing to implement through the NDCs. So what the global stocktake will do during this call is to decide to what extent are the solutions and the tools that are provided in the GST going to be utilized by these countries to enhance their climate action plans or the NDCs, which are next due in 2025. So that is why it is so important. The global stocktake process, and the political outcomes from the global stocktake are just not limited to enhancing climate action, but they also extend to a lot of enabling conditions, which includes increasing finance, increasing climate finance, which is one of the other foundation aspects of the Paris Agreement to get to the goal. And it's also towards a transfer of technology and capacity building as well. All that said, it also gets us to a number of issues that are at stake because essentially, when the Paris Agreement was drawn, there was a recognition that developing countries need a little bit more time to get to the rapid systems transformation than the developed country. Meaning that for them to peak their emissions and then to get their emissions down, they have a little bit more time. However, in the given situation, there is not enough finance to go around for the developing countries to do that. So it's very critical during this negotiation that a climate finance goal is discussed. And this essentially gets us back to an article in the Paris Agreement saying that the developed countries need to support the developing countries through finance. And this is another critical issue which is gonna discussed at COP. The other critical issue at COP, which we need to watch out for, is regarding the energy transition and what that means in terms of equity and these principles, I have news. Now we know that there has been a lot of talk around fossil fuels phase out, phase down, but we don't know what essentially that means in terms of also enabling a just transition. However, at COP 28, the elements of such a work program are going to be discussed and what that new energy system would mean for a transformed world. So that's another trend to look at. Finally, a little bit of good news on the loss and damage fund. Most of you must have heard about the loss and damage fund. Why this loss and damage fund was so critical was because essentially, we know through IPCC and science that there has been a lot of economic and non-economic loss for the most vulnerable communities, which essentially come from the developing countries and the least developing countries who are facing the brunt of human intervention, and when the developed countries have gone ahead and progressed, including ready for transition to the new energy system, they are not. So what does it mean in terms of helping them with adaptation and resilience? Now the good news on that front is that the fund just got operationalized earlier today, so that's really a win for COP 28. However, it doesn't get us to the nitty-gritties of who is going to pay, what is gonna be the voluntary contribution because this is something else what the Paris Agreement has brought in voluntary contribution and whether it just needs to be limited to countries who have been polluting the planet, basically, the developed countries. So these are essentially some trends to watch out for. And I think another important thing to remember is regarding the technology. There is a lot of discussion on the different renewable forms of technology. It also goes back to the country's low emission development strategies, which, again, are voluntary, but unfortunately, the low emission strategies that we see, and we have 75 parties who have recently submitted their emission development strategies, it shows that we are not going to peak by 2030 if we are not able to scale that kind of renewable energy and also transfer it to the developing countries. So that's something else to watch out for.

- Well, thank you for that perspective, Jasdeep. And Anne, I know you've also been involved with these negotiations and policies through your work at Ceres and I know there's also been some concern expressed in terms of this particular COP being in an oil state and its governance and so forth. And would you have comments on that aspect?

- Yes, I would, Rob. I'll start out by your initial question is raising, "How do we look at things?" And each of us as speakers has to make that decision about telling the truth about how difficult things are and maintaining our optimism. And it's really interesting now that even the declaration of how bad things are prompts many listeners to say, "Well, wait a minute, we have to stay optimistic." And there's a whole movement called Outrage + Optimism led by Christiana Figueres. And I think we're in an interesting moment because there's also such a fear not only about the problem, but about the risk of losing hope and of losing optimism for our young people, which I think is absolutely fair. I also have to say that with the Kennedy School crowd, I can't help but think back to Professor Heifetz's class on leadership that many of us took, and he invited in his book, "Leadership Without Easy Answers," to divide problems, as you all recall, into adaptive challenges and technical challenges. I've invited discussion about what we're dealing with here. I'm gonna suggest it's mostly an adaptive problem. We technologically actually know what to do, but we've really gotta work on adaptation. Deep concern, as you note, Rob, about the location of the COP being in Dubai, and of course, the COP presidency, Dr. Al Jaber, I was able to meet with in April with several other environmental NGOs. And he promised to us strict KPIs about the performance of this COP. He suggested that his own oil company, ADNOC, was a superior performer, and he was gonna demand that other oil and gas entities do the same. Needless to say, I think we're all a little disturbed by the leak that came out the last couple of days, noting that there were negotiations for oil deals going on in the background. In the runup to the COP, of course, the COP president has denied that. It certainly raises concern. And also, this is the first time that OPEC has had an official presence at the COP, and that should be of grave concern to all of us. What I asked him when I met him was, "Tell me about your KPI, your key performance indicator that will assure us that oil companies do not have an undue influence on these negotiations." The group of NGOs that asked that question, we did not get an answer back. We're keen to know how that's going to be enforced. And of course, we have lots of allies who are there in Dubai. Finally, on the things to watch for. I would just add that the fossil fuel phase out is vital. Getting language around fossil fuel phase out, it may take many forms, but certainly, ending the construction of new coal would be at the top of the list. Tripling of renewables is being talked about. The reduction of methane released by oil and gas operations by 85%, and ending deforestation. These are the things we're gonna be looking at. But I appreciate that Jasdeep noted some good news right at the kickoff of the COP. At last, we have a loss in damage fund, and of course, as she notes the trip, the key will be how much funding goes into that to make it real.

- Good. Well, thanks. And we're gonna be sharing some resources for folks that you can follow along, if you're not going to be going across the water. There are a lot of good websites that you can tune into to get daily updates as to what's going on there and get some background and insight. Shifting things a little bit. Judy, given your particular background as a state leader administrator in Massachusetts, in your view, what are the key roles and responsibilities of states and localities in building resilience and pursuing climate action policies? What are the strong examples of leadership and success? Because we have all these large goals, whether they're international, national, state, but implementation takes place at the local and state level. So that's really important. That's where the really rubber hits the road, so to speak. So what's your perspective on that?

- [Judy] Yes, thank you, Rob. That's a great question. And the reason that implementation is ultimately what's important, the states and really even local governments have a strong role to play, and really, individuals also have their strong roles to play. The leadership at the state level, and as you know and everybody attending this, one of the major challenges for the US is that while there are ambitions at the national level and even commitments at the global level representing the US, we don't actually have a national approach to achieve any kind of mitigation for climate change at the national level. What that means is that the states that have really stepped up over the last five to 10 years to take that role. Some states have stepped up and taken that role. Leadership's certainly happening in many, many states, and states have set quite ambitious goals. Many, for example, in the Northeast and in the West are setting up net, net zero, not just goals or ambitions, but actually set them in laws that we must comply as state citizens and the governments and state governments. I think that is a very important step to set a target out there and that essentially commit ourselves in achieving those goals. I'll just speak a little bit more in Massachusetts, Massachusetts actually set not only net zero in 2050, but also, 50% by 2030. And even in Massachusetts, and I would say we're a small state relative to many other larger states in the US, we don't have a lot of industries in the states. Even in that capacity, the challenges associated with decarbonizing the economy just in a small state like Massachusetts is daunting and large. And I'm glad that Jasdeep and Anne have both mentioned about financing, and I know you're talking about sort of global financing and the transfer of technology and public and private financing for developing countries and the technology transfers, but we actually also need that at the national level in the US and state level. So I'll just give you an example. There's a lot of discussions in Massachusetts about how to use, whether it's rate payers' money or federal government's money or state government's money to inspire the investments in decarbonizing buildings, our building stock. Emissions, even at the state level, we may have ambitious and very targeted and specific implementation plan. We don't yet have a financing mechanism specific enough to say, "Okay, by so-and-so date, we're going to need certain amount of financing, and how do we transfer that into the hands of the people who are going to implement them? And also, really, how to divide that." So right, we can finance part of it by users' costs, whether you own a building and you have to implement the decarbonization plans for a building, but users may not want to pay as much as what's needed, and therefore, would that be supplemented by rate payers' money? And if that's not enough, with the tax dollars from the state and federal dollars in the IRA. So it's almost like we need a packaged deal to finance the implementation action plans that we need at the state level.

- Good, thank you. Anybody else have comments on sort of this aspect of the very important role of implementation on local state level?

- Maybe I'll just jump in briefly.

- [Rob] Sure.

- First, thanks for host, and thanks for having us all. It's always great to be back out with our friends at Harvard. I would just say, I've been in the offshore wind business almost for 15 years. I mean, building off what Judy just said, particularly, and I worked for a lot of European companies, the offshore wind business started in Europe 30 years ago. So it's still in its infancy, even though we are right now in the water building, the first project south of the Vineyard. But a lot of people still can't grasp the fact that we don't have a national energy policy in the United States because energy is procured locally through states, by utilities. And it's kind of counterintuitive for a lot of my international friends, and I'm sure there's folks on this call that are from various countries. And so I think that's why, you know, what Judy just said, really, states have to kind of lead, and I think, thank goodness states are leading, particularly here in the Northeast, particularly along the East Coast, particularly on the West Coast. I mean, there's more to be done, but specifically for me, as I think I'm a bit obsessed with offshore wind, but if you just think for Massachusetts, you know, Judy can correct me, but it probably took us 25 years to build what, 16, 1700 megawatts, 1800 megawatts of solar. We're gonna build an offshore wind farm of 800 megawatts in probably a two-year period, and that's gonna be a huge impact to the grid and to our efforts to decarbonize here in the Northeast. Obviously, we can get into it as we go. We have enormous challenges right now in our sector, the offshore wind sector because of rising interest rates, because of the macroeconomics, because of supply chain constraints, because of the rising cost of finance, which has been discussed. This is a huge issue for us. This is a huge challenge for us, particularly as we try to get to these 2030 goals and these 2050 goals. So we are kind of in a bad spot right now. But I do think it is temporary. I do think we gotta find our way through it, but with the help of government, both on the state and federal level at our side.

- Yeah, Bill, I wanna follow up on that aspect 'cause I know it's on the mind of folks, particularly with the recent Orsted announcement

- Yeah.

- around New Jersey, although it's noted at the same time that they went ahead with another project while canceling the two in New Jersey.

- Yeah, revolution. Yeah.

- Exactly. So how do you see this challenge sort of playing out that so many industries have dealt with in terms of inflation and the supply chain? What's gonna turn the corner for the offshore wind industry in terms of the inflation abatement and supply chain

- [Bill] Yeah.

- smoothing out? How does that work? How's that gonna happen?

- Yeah, I mean, I think when we were first hit with this, I was actually working for Avangrid. It is a Spanish conglomerate, but developer here in the US, and Judy knows this story well. We submitted a proposal to Massachusetts for around $72 a kilowatt hour for a first-year price, a very competitive price. We submitted that in 2021 with the expectation, with the knowledge of 40 years of economic stability in the US, with the knowledge of what the Vineyard Wind Project just procured at. And we believed in it and we submitted it. But in that time with Ukraine and everything else, the world changed dramatically on us. And I think that was a huge hit for this offshore wind industry where costs escalated very quickly, 30 and 40% in higher costs. So unfortunately, I mean, I don't know if when Massachusetts was the first one to kinda deal with this issue, right? And I think there was probably a lot of disbelief. I used to sit in state government, so I kinda get it. This can't be true. You cannot have these costs escalate this quickly. But it happened. I think going forward is your harder question, right? In a way, Ukraine was a huge, dramatically negative impact to our industry. But also, I mean, on a global level, if you think about what that message sent to the Europeans, they do no longer wanted to be tied. They wanted to have energy independence, right? Nevermind climate, they just didn't want Putin to have to control the spigot, right? So they've all moved even more aggressively on their renewable targets, and particularly, offshore wind. But for us, what happened was because the supply chain hadn't been established here in the US yet, it was a squeeze. There's only so much nacelle capacity, blade capacity, steel capacity to build the foundations and the monopiles and the turbines and the towers. And so that whole squeeze escalated prices. How will it end? I think it's gonna... You know, God loved New York by the way, if anybody's on the phone for New York. But New York just approved four gigawatts of projects at around 140 plus dollars per megawatt hour. Dramatically more expensive than what we had initially hoped. But they've had that capacity in New York. So we're gonna have more procurements going forward at escalated prices. But you've gotta believe that as America begins to build offshore wind, as the supply chain begins to establish in the US, manufacturing plans for cable, for towers, for nacelles, for blades, I mean, these are in the infancy now, and they're coming. But I think once that supply chain establishes, I do think we're gonna have a deescalation of cost to be a little bit more manageable for rate payers.

- Well, very good. Let's hope so.

- [Bill] Let's hope.

- Yes. Anne and others jump in, but could you speak to the role of the private sector? You obviously does terrific work with private sector folks in terms of forging partnerships with local state, international policy makers in the climate arena, one of the most effective strategies and examples of successful partnerships in this area.

- Yeah, I think, well, first off, Bill, thank you for all that great news on offshore wind. This is really exciting and we wanna shout that from the rooftops. You know, I think we used to have some helpful examples that are very recent where the business community has stepped up. I mean, one of the most effective things they can do is to work with local and state policy makers and to demand more access to renewable energy, to demand clean electricity standards. And we've been doing that with companies for several years now. I think a few notable successes, in California, most of you know, about six weeks ago, two climate risk disclosure bills passed. And that's because several major companies, Microsoft, Apple, I could name several others, stood up, and really called for those despite what the California Chamber of Commerce was calling for. So series has been pushing for robust climate risk disclosure for a very long time. I think you all know the reasons why. Decision useful information for investors to allow for fair allocation of capital that really takes into account actual climate risk. I don't have to tell you where the oil companies stood on robust climate risk disclosure, but that passed in California. It's really important, and it gives a boost to the Securities Data Exchange Commission, which is about to drop a rule mandating climate risk disclosure at the federal level. And really, many, many advocates were behind this, but the business and investor community really did stand up and call for this victory. So there's a, I think, useful partnership there. Similar in Michigan, we just passed 100% clean electricity standard. The bill was signed yesterday. And again, in addition to several really helpful NGO advocates, the business and investor community stood up and met with the governor and met with lawmakers over the last year calling for the standard. So clean electricity in Michigan by 2040, 'cause we wanted 2035. But it's still really significant to see that kind of success. And of course, there's any number of successes here in our home state of Massachusetts through the Healey Administration, the establishment of a green bank, for example. So to answer your question, I think, companies, businesses really have two things. They need to advocate... First off, they need to set their own science-based targets and net zero plans. Over 6,000 companies have set science-based targets now. Well over 2,600 have net zero targets. And they need to keep working on those and make sure that they're verified and enforceable. And then to meet those targets, they have to be pulling the right policy levers. They have to be aligning their policy advocacy with a true commitment to that goal. It obviously just can't be a greenwash. They have to really be sending the right demand signal to the fossil fuel companies. That's why we're so happy that over 200 companies globally sent a signal calling for the phase out of fossil fuels just today in a full page Financial Times ad. Really important to send that signal that we are seeking to purchase renewable energy. We are seeking a orderly, robust transition to a clean energy economy. And yes, that does need to be a just transition that is fair to those who have been left out, overburdened, or displaced by the energy transition. So those are the two things that we really encourage members of the private sector to do. And that's companies largely. Investors, obviously, need to invest in the clean energy economy, and there's so many opportunities to do that. The Inflation Reduction Act was a big basket of financial carrots that companies can take advantage of. There were so many ways in which the federal government has stood up to de-risk some of these projects. We're seeing projects go in the ground across the country. We're seeing private investment almost matching now the public investment, which is, as you know, gonna be up to 370 billion. So there's plenty to do. There's no need to sit on the sidelines. There is a comfortable, collective business voice that members of the private sector can easily join.

- I'd like to just chime in really quickly there because I'm so glad that Anne actually brought up the California Climate Risk Disclosure rules and laws. I think that is really important, as Anne had already said, because now, businesses, and I think it's interesting to hear that the business community has been driving a consistent way to label and to disclose not only their risk exposure, but also, their actual greenhouse gas emissions. So this has a significant impact. In the US, obviously, California is a large state, many, many businesses operate in California. So that would be a significant step forward. The clean energy or a clean electricity standards around the country. And there are several states involved in setting clean electricity standards. I think we should... You know, it's an extremely important step because what Anne hasn't said, but maybe it's implied, is that the goal of decarbonizing the economy is actually to try to electrify most of our sectors as much as possible in an economic sense, and then plug them into a clean electricity grid, which is why having a clean electricity grid is extremely important. But as many of you on this call also probably recognized because it's now all over New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the grid itself has not been built, had not been built to accommodate the amount of renewable energy and the necessary battery support that might be in different parts of the system. And therefore, a significant amount of effort it has to go in, and I don't just mean the financing part of the transmission and distribution upgrades necessary, but that significant amount of reform is necessary, both at the federal level, at the state level. Our federal government has been working hard in trying to understand where the siting and permitting processes need to be reformed, so that we can streamline the development of the infrastructure needed. And also talked about a just transition. We also need to do this very fast, but also very carefully. So we have to be clear with the communities that will be impacted by infrastructure development to really educate the country about the necessity of this infrastructure. Of course, financing is potentially a constraint, but also just the amount of investments, the siting and permitting through people's communities. But without a grid, a significant grid upgrade, both at the high voltage level and the distribution level, we're not actually going to achieve the clean electricity standards that some states are leading, but really across the country, the Biden Administration has wanted the clean electricity standard as well. So I think this is lots of opportunity, but also significant barrier at the moment that we have to overcome.

- Right. Well, jumping off on that a little bit, you know, we hear a lot about various technologies, and we have the policy aspect and we have the research aspect and the technological advances that we expect over the next years and decades that's gonna really help with this problem. And fair to say that some of it is not necessarily even conceived at this point in terms of what that all means, but what do you all see as the key technology trends? What technologies have the most promise and impact? We hear a lot about carbon capture and certainly things like that. There's increasing talk about different kinds of nuclear energy than people are maybe are used to or those kinds of plants, those legacy plants. So what would do you see as the trends going forward in terms of technology advancements? Bill, go ahead.

- Maybe I'll just jump in and you guys can argue with me. Let's get everybody fired up here for a second. I've been listening to people talking about breakthrough technology for 20 years, and I think we need it all. We need to have all the researchers going full blast. We need to think about nuclear. I just want somebody to tell me where we're gonna site it. I'm just trying to site offshore wind farms here, and that's hard enough. But I will just say, yes, we need technology, we need development, but at the same time, we actually have the solutions in our hands right now. We actually do have the current technology. Yes, it can improve. When I started out in offshore wind, we were thinking about a two-megawatt turbine out in Nantucket Sound. Right now, the DEME is building the Vineyard Wind Project. This is the first commercial scale. This is a 13.6 megawatt turbine built by GE. So just in the short amount of time, that technology has exponentially increased and helped drive down the cost until recently. So I would just say to everyone, don't always be focused on the future and finding what's the next best thing. I mean, I think we need to kinda continue to push battery storage and improving all the different types of technologies. Carbon capture, I think, has been a bit of a boondoggle to be honest with you. It just doesn't seem like it's real. I think it's sometimes an excuse for some of the... I always got a kick outta ExxonMobil, always focused on LG. That was their messaging. I mean, what a disappointment that we've seen from the US oil and gas industry. Whereas again, the Europeans aren't perfect, but at least they're trying to move and invest in their billions of dollars into advancing an offshore wind technology that can be built at scale and really take a hit, take a bite out of the climate challenge.

- [Judy] If I could...

- Yeah, go ahead, Judy.

- [Judy] Yeah, I would just love to chime in real quickly here. We can't overemphasize the importance of technological improvements, whether it's larger turbines that can be more cost effective or it's battery storage with different metals and elements, or nuclear or hydrogen production and usage. Because the technologies we have today, we have to ramp up and we have to become more efficient. We have to make sure that the costs curve are coming down. With the technologies we have today, we know how to move and we need to move, but we don't have all of the technology necessary to achieve net zero in 2050. So the investments in research and development is substantial, and globally, I mean, this is where I see that Jasdeep probably want to... Definitely wanna hear your perspective on this. This is a global race to improve the technologies we have today and technologies that we cannot even imagine today, but that needs to happen over the next couple decades.

- Yes.

- So I mean, this has been very fascinating for me because we try looking at solutions, and particularly when countries come back and tell us that we cannot aspirate climate action if we are not provided with access to technology. And just to share the report that came out recently, some of the priority sectors for decarbonization did include renewable energy and public transportation, electric vehicles, and a bunch of ecosystem-based adaptation actions. But even with those kind of... And they mentioned that we see huge core benefits coming from deploying renewable energy. But the big thing for them is, and this is something which I'm very curious to ask everyone, is there is an issue with infrastructure, which is both grid and storage aspects. And there is also a capital cost associated with the renewable energy. And plus, right now, there isn't much willingness, and perhaps it is because these technologies are emerging, there isn't much willingness to actually deploy this kind of innovation into developing countries as well. But it comes back to we not then meeting, getting to net zero. So the question then is, how can we create an enabling environment? And there was a lot of discussion on having de-risking investments and getting the private sector in center-wise, because public finance is not sufficient at this point in time. But for private sector finance to come in, and we know that they are considered to be non-state parties, they cannot be at the negotiation table. How are they to be incentivized and how are developing countries also to be incentivized to actually be able to deploy this kind of renewable energy? And you mentioned that we have that energy, and Bill, you mentioned we have that kind of renewable energy, but scaling it, deploying it does require building trust, it also requires creating an enabling environment. And unfortunately, those things are not there. So I think what we really need to, also, when we think about innovation, we also need to see how can we really have more international cooperation? Which is a facet of the Paris Agreement. But when it comes to deploying these kind of technologies and because of the funding needs, it doesn't really happen. So I think this is a big issue now, which is creating a gridlock as well. Yes, two renewable sources of energy, but how to get access to these renewable sources of energy, how to deploy that scale, and how to address the challenges around transferring the kind of technology that can be used in different national contexts as well. The last thing I really wanna mention is about the role of cities. And I think this is something which is now being recognized quite widely in the global arena. As you know, we have these two global climate initiators, which were led by cities, it's Race to Zero, and the Resilience Climate Initiative. And what these programs have essentially shown is that we can have lot of transnational partnerships that can be built at the global level, where the private sector can definitely be deployed, innovation can come from there, but that would require a change in mindset even amongst the cities and encouraging more partnerships. So all the issues, Judy, that you brought up regarding leadership challenges and also not having the budget. Sometimes financing is just 10% on climate, and that's not enough for cities. So how do we bridge these issues? But one thing that has come across through what we are seeing at COP is that there are a lot of initiatives where voluntary commitments are being made and the private sector and the cities are ready to be tracked, are ready to be transparent and accountable on these pledges and initiatives. But to the extent renewable energy is involved, it is to be seen because this is a big component of climate action and systems transformation. But to the extent, access and deployment right now seems to be creating a gridlock in getting to net zero by deploying it.

- Well, thanks for that perspective. One last question to you all before we go to audience questions. In this time of political upheaval and division, what roles can HKS alumni play in participating in climate and clean energy solutions? How do we maintain hope in what we see in our daily lives and what we all talked about? The negative aspects of what's happening. But in order to continue this work and make progress, we do have to maintain hope and create optimism. So how do you see all that? How do our alumni get involved?

- Come on, somebody's gonna start or I'm gonna go-

- [Judy] Okay, I can start.

- [Rob] Go ahead.

- [Judy] I can start. So in climate action, as anybody's been working in this area knows that each one of us as individuals have a responsibility. And then we talked about private sector. I just wanna go back to a moment for that. I think until we can make sure that the investments are lucrative enough for the private sector, we will not be able to scale up the investments that we need. And that's why you see in some areas, we're able to align the policies and the public sector incentives to make sure that the private sector are investing in those parts. But it's not yet enough, just as Jasdeep had said, and we can spend a lot of time about how to attract private sector and align private sector's incentives to do all the climate action implementation that we need. Back to the HKS and what alumni and students and faculty can do, I recently taught a class at Kennedy School, and I absolutely just loved it. And the reason is the students are hungry for this. The students are hungry to understand the systems dynamics associated with all our economy and how these things are linking together. So I'll just venture to say like, it's easy to say, "Well, we need to get to net zero, we need to challenge ourselves, and it's difficult," et cetera. But the students are actually really, really interested in it. How does this actually work? How do the climate negotiations happen? What happens in the rooms? What are developed countries doing with developing countries? What are the asks? How do we bring those moneys into the right places? How do we evolve the technology and drive down the cost of the technologies we have today? And then how do we interface the transportation system and the transition that needs to happen in the transportation system into the grids of the electricity system? The students are hungry for this. And I would venture to say, "Our alumni are probably hungry for this." So the more we can bring people together and to really drill down deep, not just sort of talk at the surface and saying that we have to have ambition, of course, we have to do that, but to really have opportunities to talk about the nitty-gritty details of how these kings can move even if we just move an inch at a time. I think that's really, really important for HKS, both for students and for alumni.

- And maybe I'll just add to Judy, the other piece of this thing is NIMBy, it is hard to build renewable energy projects that are transformational. And I think, yes, the policy and the planning, et cetera. But right now, we're a litigious society. In the United States, we have our challenges, shall we just say? And I just think being a voice at a public meeting, I mean, Rob, this is your expertise here, but speaking out, these federal bureaucrats are humans. They take on these issues and they do not wanna be making decisions when everyone's yelling at them, it is critical to actually have smart people like HKS graduates actually being able to stand up at a public meeting that's not always easy, but to have some balance and some rationality because if we do not kind of pivot here and pivot immediately, we're in trouble. I think we all know that. I mean, we don't like to talk about it, but we're in trouble as a species. And so I would just urge folks not to underestimate the power of voice and the power of speaking out and the power of grassroots engagement. 'cause these things are political too and we gotta play on that level.

- Right. Well, thanks.

- Can I just endorse what Bill said? I just wanna get pine what Bill said. He's absolutely right, and that's so concrete. You can all get involved at the local level on siting decisions and you need to know that the opposition to siting, to legitimate siting is being funded by the fossil fuel sector. I don't wanna call that out, that's just the truth of it.

- Yeah.

- You know, Heifetz' book was "Leadership Without Easy Answers." We need climate action without easy answers. We gotta go deep and really understand, a little bit of investigative reporting here, the opposition to wind and solar is funded by those who would benefit from its demise. Just gotta call that out. Just gotta be really clear. The other thing we learned at the Kennedy School, many of us were involved in the Harvard Negotiation Project, we have alumni colleagues who are involved in the oil and gas sector. I met one at a reunion, and he said, "You're not gonna wanna talk to me 'cause I work with oil and gas." And I said, "No, I do wanna talk to you." We better start building those bridges. Bill is exactly right. We are at the end, this is it. We are the frog in the pot, and we are boiling. And so we've gotta do those hard conversations, which, as HKS alums, we should be good at. Let's have those confrontational diplomatic conversations that talk about the end game here.

- Right. Well, thanks for that. Jasdeep, you're gonna...

- Very quickly.

- [Rob] One final comment, then we'll go to questions.

- Just very quickly. I mean, being in the climate negotiations and the international sector, I can say it is the individual action which matters the most and where the impact is felt the most, and there is an uptake by policy makers. I have organized so many conferences on innovation, urban solutions recently on ocean solutions. And that's what the national governments want. That's what the cities want. They want to hear from citizens, how they can address the climate crisis. They want those ideas. Innovation is absolutely constrained at the local level and at the national government. And if the innovation comes from the citizens themselves, those solutions can be scaled. And I think HKS students are brilliant and so are the alumni, and actually, getting to innovation. And so I think that's where we really can make a mark. So that's it.

- Well, thank you all. Really appreciate your perspective and your expertise. We are gonna go to questions, so we have a question from Alan.

- Hi, if I'm on.

- You're on.

- Good. The Kennedy School promotes economics, but as a lawyer, I went back and looked at the history, and one of the things you learn from, really, the first round of confrontation against polluters in the modern era is that, I hate to focus on one person, but Ralph Nader's book in 1965 pointed the finger. And what he did was up until that time, it had been thought that pollution was just an incident of industrial activity. Like you've heard the phrase, "Oh, when I see smoke coming out of a smoke stack, what I see is money." We're all familiar. What Nader did was he turned pollution into a wrongful act. And because it was a wrongful act, you didn't have to bother with hope or anything, you just had to point the finger and say, "Somebody is in the wrong, they need to pay." Well, we don't have the political will these days to actually do that, but we were talking about the discussion just now was about how we can motivate the public, and that's the thing that is missing. We really need to get to the point of being able to say, "The carbon industries are in the wrong and they need to cough up considerable resources. And that would take the pressure off the public expenditures and the taxes that the public might have to pay to support these technologies." But we really need to start with a point that carbon emissions are a wrongful act, and because they're a wrongful act, they are legally actionable. And that's the perspective I would add to the discussion. Thank you.

- Yeah, I couldn't agree more, Alan. I used to do criminal enforcement, and you're absolutely right. We're thrilled with the development of attribution science, which is getting better. These are tough legal issues, but we have a successful case from Montana you may know about, and this has not been easy. Most people on this call, I'd be curious, so many people feel like, "Well, we're all in this together, you know?" I fly a lot, I use a car, and let's not forget the data. The data is the richest 1% are responsible for a hugely disproportionate amount of emissions. Those of us in well-educated groups living in nice places have a big carbon footprint. What I find when I talk to people is that their guilt and their responsibility keeps them from saying exactly what you just said. We need a systems change. And there's no question about the deceit, about the underhanded activities, about the lack of trust, specifically, let's call it from the fossil fuel sector. It's gotta be called out. I couldn't agree with you more. And it's very complicated because of people's feeling of individual responsibility actually gets in the way.

- Well, thanks. We're gonna go to one final question. It has to do with, I think, really, the balance between our environmental protection, our processes, and the fact that particularly in the United States, permitting projects take so long, there's a lot of obstacles. And how are we going to meet this balance of appropriate permitting reform while still maintaining our environmental protections to make sure that these renewable projects get online? Because we don't have time to wait five, seven, eight years for these things to get online. So what's your perspective on that? I'll start with you, Bill.

- Yeah, I'm very fired up about this issue. I mean, I've been just reading a little bit about Big Dig. I don't know if anybody's been listening to this podcast, but it's remarkable about this project. Of course, it's got a lot of legs to it, but anyways, it's the story of how they permitted this project and the litigation and the compromises that they made. But it's almost virtually impossible to do anything big in America nowadays. And I know we're all kind of environmentalists in a way, I would imagine, but it always seems the third rail is NEPA. Can we go ahead and actually reform NEPA? I know some of the environmental groups of hell no, never. But I will tell you that when I work with federal agencies, and I love them, I mean, I'm friends with many of them, I've worked with 'em for a long time. They do look at an offshore wind project, almost like a coal-fired power plant. I mean, there's a lack of understanding. And I would say there's a lack of urgency. I'm not saying that the private sector's perfect, I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying that from a permitting and a urgency perspective, we need the federal government to kind of move more quickly. You know, we need states to move more quickly, and we need the private sector to move quickly. I think all across the board. And I think if we allow... You know, somebody was asking in the chat, there are issues, there's no question about it. Somebody asked about recycling the blades. We've gotta recycle the blades. You know, we've gotta solve these problems as we move forward. But we cannot let every single issue slow us down because again, we have an extinction crisis on our hands. And if we don't get that sense of urgency to solve, I mean, this has to be like a post-Pearl Harbor, building out the US Air Force, which did not exist, rebuilding the naval fleet that did not exist in order to defeat Nazi Germany. We need the same sense of urgency. And my fear is I don't see that with our partners.

- Well, that's part of our reason for being here together today, is to try to spark that even more so amongst our alumni and society at large. So I wanna thank you all for, again, taking the time to be with us and your perspective in this very important time, this critical time. And I'm gonna turn this back over to Karen to wrap up, but this will be allowed, this program will be recorded and sent around. So we look forward to continuing the conversation. So thank you, everyone.

- Thank you, Rob, and to all the panelists for a dynamic discussion, and for all the alumni who joined today, we hope you enjoyed it. For the most up-to-date school news and events, please visit the HKS alumni website. We look forward to keeping you all engaged in the future months and enjoy the rest of your days. Thank you.

- I do wanna say one more thing. If folks wanna follow what's going on with COP, a very good resource is International Institute for Sustainable Development, iisd.org And also, as Jasdeep had mentioned, there's a COP 28 local Climate Action Summit, which is actually the first of its kind. And you can find information on that by googling that, Climate Action Summit, or Climate Mayors is also a very good resource for that. But I just wanna make sure that folks have those resources that they wanna follow what's going on over there. So thanks again, everyone, and have a great day.