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181: A U.S. Special: Making The Irresistible Irreversible!

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About this episode

Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism, where we examine issues at the forefront of the climate crisis, interview change-makers, and transform our anger into productive dialogue on building a sustainable future.

In this episode, co-hosts Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac go deep into U.S. domestic energy policy with guests U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and White House Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi.

First up, the critical topic of energy justice: Granholm updates the team on the Justice40 Initiative, in which an unprecedented 40 percent of federal energy investments are earmarked for disadvantaged and historically underserved communities that are overburdened by pollution. The plans, which seek to reckon with deep-seated inequities, are ambitious, exciting, and groundbreaking.

Other themes covered include energy Earth Shots, EV charging stations located every 50 miles, and why Granholm’s mantra is, ”Deploy, deploy, deploy!”

Speaking of action, Tom and Christiana’s next guest is optimist and White House Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. He contends the U.S. is on a positive linear trajectory and accelerating exponentiallyーnot just in clean energy or emissions reduction but in terms of the political economy backing these actions. Get the scoop on how federal agencies and departments are pushing forward together.

Zaidi also talks about the power of state and local governments to step upーespecially in the face of an unsupportive Congress. He also discusses how the Reconciliation Bill and Inflation Reduction Act 2022 can help get the industrial sector in line with 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to emission reductionーand the World Cup!

We finish the episode with the beautiful track “Until the Day” by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter BEL. Additional details are included in the show notes below.

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Jennifer M. Granholm, Secretary U.S. Department of Energy.

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Find out more about the Justice40 Initiative.

Ali Zaidi, White House Deputy National Climate Advisor 

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Here’s more on the Inflation Reduction Act 2022 and the 2022 Budget Resolution And Reconciliation: How We Will Build Back Better legislation.

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Full Transcript

Tom : [00:00:01] Listeners to Outrage + Optimism we need your help. We are doing a listener survey, which we do now and again. It's so important to get your feedback. All of the details can be found in all of our social media feeds. Please, if you follow us, if you like the podcast, we would be so grateful if you would go there and let us know some details. It's important they do this, isn't it Christiana?

Christiana: [00:00:18] Definitely. And just to make things easy, we'll put it again in the show notes.

Tom : [00:00:23] In the show notes. All right, here we go. Here's the episode. Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:00:41] I'm Christiana Figueres and the shadow Paul Dickinson.

Tom : [00:00:46] We have no Paul this week. He'll be back next week. But we do bring you a special edition focusing on US domestic policy with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi. And we have music from BEL. Thanks for being here. So Christiana it's just little old us this week. I don't think Paul has missed an episode in two or three years actually, so I don't quite know what he's up to, but I'm sure he'll be back next week. This is going to be brief. We are bringing you today an episode that we have long talked about, which is a deep dive into what's happening in the US. The US obviously has the world's largest economy. Second largest emitter is disproportionately important of what happens globally on climate, both from an emissions perspective and also from a politics perspective. And actually, there's been some pretty remarkable things happening in the US over the course of the last six months. So this is going to be a fun episode, definitely.

Christiana: [00:01:48] And I'm looking forward to to these conversations because on the podcast we've been talking about the two bodies of legislation, of course, that the United States has has passed, but we haven't really dedicated any time to how does this trickle down? How does it get implemented, how does it get deployed? How does it go out to states and cities and companies? And most importantly, how does it get to the population? How do these mega legislation packages that have been passed in the United States, how does it trickle all the way down, especially to those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to those who need the support most urgently that more urgently than everyone else? So this is one way of peeling the onion several layers down to to see how this is actually working in the United States, all the way down to the levels where it is most important.

Tom : [00:02:53] And this is refreshing and important. Right? We spent the last few weeks talking about Sharm el Sheikh and the COP. Obviously, the international agenda is important, but it is based on domestic legislation. And the US has always been an outlier in the sense that there hasn't been a climate bill. Everything's been advanced through executive action signed by presidents, then rolled back by the next president. That's had a negative impact on how the US has been seen around the world. But this is changing and it's changing in ways that are evident and ways that are subtle. So we're going to dig into that, first of all, with two remarkable guests that we're thrilled to talk to. First of all, with the secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, who will be our first interviewee. And then we'll be back for a couple of comments and then we'll go the discussion with the White House climate advisor Ali Zaidi.

Christiana: [00:03:37] Let's go.

Tom : [00:03:38] All right. Here is Jennifer Granholm. Secretary Granholm, thank you so much for joining us on Outrage + Optimism. It is a pleasure and a privilege to talk to you. We really appreciate you making some time. And I'd just like to start off by reflecting. A couple of months ago, you and I were on a panel together at the Clinton Global Initiative, and I was privileged to chair a session that you were part of with the governor of California and a range of others. And I have two principal memories from that panel. One is, I don't think as you were putting forward your resolutely optimistic agenda, I don't think I've ever had to pause for applause more in a panel that I was part of then, as you put that perspective forward. So that was wonderful. And the other reflection is I don't think I've ever met anyone who has reminded me more of Christiana Figueres. So it is a huge pleasure and honor to introduce you.

Christiana: [00:04:27] My honor. My honor.

Tom : [00:04:31] So I can't believe you haven't met before. You're meaning to get her on this podcast and Christiana will jump in a sec. But I just want to start off by asking you, we're going to ask you a lot of questions about energy strategy and how we're going to hit targets. But I want to start by asking about justice, because obviously I know this is at the core of what you do, and the Justice 40 initiative is famous, but perhaps not that widely understood by everybody. Do you think you could start off by just saying you now have a slate of new laws, you've got big commitments, but how is justice going to be part of implementing those laws? And how is life in the United States going to change as a result of that part of your strategy?

Jennifer Granholm: [00:05:04] Yeah, I mean, this is such an important question because people talk, for example, about structural inequality. Right? And so how do you address the structure part of it? And the beautiful thing about these laws is that it is embedding structural equality in it. And so what I mean by that, so we are looking, first of all, at the Department of Energy and we'll talk about the laws that were passed. But as we implement those laws, what are the place based strategies that we must adopt in order to repair the harm that has been done to communities who are either fenceline or frontline communities, as we say? And that's why we're looking at a broad range of technologies that can help workers of all backgrounds, including from the fossil fuel industry, get in to clean energy. And we intend to deploy clean energy technologies in every pocket of the country in rural and urban areas, but particularly focused on jobs and justice. In areas that have been left behind. So for the first time, let me just give you an example. We're requiring that our grant recipients, under our bipartisan infrastructure law, one of the big first pieces of legislation that came through that is really grant based. And so in order to get a grant, you have to compete for it. And in order to compete successfully, you have to have a community benefit plan.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:06:29] And those plans are part of the evaluation and the contract that we have with the grantees. And they've got four elements. Basically, they've got investing in America's workforce, so investing in the workers themselves, making sure that we are training them in a way to make ensure success. Engaging communities and labor, both the community benefit plans have to advance diversity and equity and inclusion and accessibility, and then they have to as well implement the President's Justice 40 initiative, and that seeks to funnel 40% of the benefits of clean energy investments to underserved and overburdened communities. So both the two of these pieces, the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure law, they have in addition to that direct equity investments in communities. So, for example, the infrastructure law invests a whopping $60 billion in environmental justice efforts, like, you know, reclamation of abandoned mines or or replacing lead pipes, service lines to homes, cleaning up Superfund sites. And it also funds clean energy demonstration projects to to advance technologies like advanced nuclear and carbon capture with really a high potential for skills matched work with the communities that we will be entering into, particularly in fossil communities. And it prioritizes these proposals that also involve fossil energy workers. And then I'm sorry to keep going on about this, but it's just so exciting because the Inflation Reduction Act then provides tens of billions of more.

Christiana: [00:08:12] I love the content secretary, but I more than anything, I love your passion about this.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:08:17] Because it's it's just the first time we have recognized this inequality issue and are addressing it with with concrete legislation. Right.

Christiana: [00:08:28] So transformational.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:08:30] It is. It is. Because then the Inflation Reduction Act really gets gets the private sector off the sidelines in this cause. You know, it provides about tens of billions more to improve air and land and water and health. And, you know, the front the communities who have been overburdened are at the front of the line for the benefits from clean energy. So, for example, we have a tribal electrification program to support tribal communities in this transition to zero emissions energy systems. And it's going to help electrify tribal homes because we have a lot of tribal homes that don't even have electricity. And of course, doing that, electrifying them, using clean energy, you know, So it's it's and all of these get extra bonus points if they are if they're using good paying jobs, high quality jobs that they have access to a union. If there's apprenticeships, for example, to be able to train people on the job, they get extra. There's kicker in there for as a percentage, if they if they offer all of that, there's a kicker if they locate it. So, for example, you get a 30% tax credit if you're locating a manufacturing facility in a disadvantaged at all. Just if you're if you're building a manufacturing facility, manufacturing, clean energy products. So 30% off the top, if you locate that facility in a disadvantaged community, you get 40%. If you locate that in a disadvantaged community and you're paying prevailing wage and you have an apprenticeship program, you get 50%, oh, 50% tax credit. I mean, that is an amazing incentive to repair the damage that we have that these communities have endured. So it's very exciting.

Tom : [00:10:15] So so we are 5 minutes into this interview and I suspect all listeners now know what I was talking about at the beginning of the conversation. Christiana, over to you.

Christiana: [00:10:25] Well, Secretary, you mentioned the the laws and it strikes me that ourselves, Tom Paul and myself, but most people that we speak to when we refer to the United States new legislation, we refer to two laws, IRA and bill. And it is quite striking that you have a broader interpretation of the laws. You put three laws into a package and you very creatively call them the backbone, the brain and the lungs. And it is the brain part that we haven't really heard very much about. So I would love to hear you describe. That package and and its organic interrelationship because clearly by speaking of all three of them as backbone, brain and lungs is because you are really seeing how they are supporting each other, just like the different parts of the body would. But speak to us about the three of them and tell us a little bit more about the brain, because we have discussed the other two, Bill and Ira, on previous episodes, but we've never referred to to to the chips, right?

Jennifer Granholm: [00:11:36] So so the brain, the Chips and Science Act, chips, of course, referring to the fact that we in the United States were woefully inadequate in terms of being able to build semiconductors. And the semi the fabrication facility for the brains of any technology. Right. Comes through the semiconductor industry. And we had lost the ability. And we've seen we've we've all seen. Right. What happens when you rely too much on one country to be able to provide any supply? Right. But this is true in semiconductors. It's true in energy. It's true anywhere. So we decided as a nation that it's really important for, for example, the building of electric vehicles to be able to have access to semiconductors that are necessary to make sure that those vehicles are operating. And so we the Chips and Science Act, puts a huge amount of funds into incentivizing, locating those those semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the United States. Part one. Part two, it provides a huge amount of funding for investing in the Department of Energy labs. We've got 17 national labs, and those labs are really the underpinnings for the development of these new technologies, and that's what we call it, the brains, because of course, all of the next generation technologies which are critical, are being worked on at the at the labs. And so investing in both the basic research as well as early stage demonstration is really important. So both research development, early stage demonstration and deployment are all covered in these three three bills.

Christiana: [00:13:13] And how with so many opportunities on the table, right, the glass really is overflowing with opportunities. How do you prioritize, Secretary, what what is going to be your priority or priorities? What are going to be your priorities over the next two years? When you think about the the first Biden administration, how do you think that we can get over the next two years to a critical point where we're no longer questioning, should we do this, but rather we move to the question, how fast are we doing this?

Jennifer Granholm: [00:13:51] Totally important. And so, I mean, first of all, my mantra has been deploy, deploy, deploy. And that really is a and that means deploy, of course, existing technologies that we know work and we know we can get out the door. And that's really the way this this these body of laws framed. So the bipartisan infrastructure law, as you know, is really grant based. And so it is competitive grants that people have to apply for. The Inflation Reduction Act is really tax credit based. So it incentivizes the private sector to get in the game without us having to evaluate necessarily a particular proposal. They're just going to be eligible, assuming that they meet the criteria of whether they're investing in clean energy or not. Right. And so deploy, deploy, deploy is our total priority. In fact, we've reorganized the Department of Energy to create a whole new undersecretary for infrastructure that is all about large scale demonstrations and deployment for both the bipartisan infrastructure law, as well as the Inflation Reduction Act. So we the two laws I mean, this to your point, these have the power to make this clean energy transition irreversible in the United States. And this is why it's so critical for us to move this quickly. I mean, a lot of that is about changing the economics of these technologies, all of them driving the costs down.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:15:13] Right. And we're we're doing a lot of that through the technology advances that we're making through art. We have something called energy Earth shots, and that sets this ambitious, ambitious series of goals to slash costs for four key technologies like clean hydrogen or long duration storage or geothermal or offshore floating platforms for wind. We have we have a series of earth shots that we are incentivizing. And as I say, a lot of that is from our labs. But as we get those costs down and these industries built up, we we have to translate it for to every American. And we have to do that by implementing these laws really effectively. And that part of that requires us to work with, for example, state and local governments. We're already collaborating with local governments on a lot of these programs under these new laws from implementing. So one of the things that's very cool is the electric vehicle charging infrastructure that was funded in the bipartisan infrastructure law. So we're going to have charging stations every 50 miles, not more than a mile off a freeway in all the high travel corridors. That's the first round. All 50 states applied for this funding. It's seven and one half dollars Billion, the first tranche of it. Every state's plan was approved. They're all going to have these and the money has started to flow.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:16:33] So we're going to start to see these charging stations pop up all over the country. But we also need the state and local governments to help us with. For example, another key provision is the ability to install heat pumps and get rebates for those the incentives associated with reducing energy use through efficient excuse me, appliances are astounding. And and for low and moderate income people, especially for low income people, you can have your whole home, weatherize all your appliances, replace. You might even be able to put solar panels on your roof. You might end up with a zero electric bill because of the technology you have applied because these bills make it possible to really deploy, deploy, deploy, and state and local governments are going to be key for that. So, so much going on, getting this funding out the door. We've already announced a number of funding decisions. So once that commitment has been made, you cannot undo undo it. And that's why this, you know, the speed with which we want to, not just because the, you know, the planet's on fire, but because we want to make sure that that this is a track that we are on that cannot be turned back. And so this is why we are working with such a degree of urgency.

Christiana: [00:17:47] Well, this this non irreversibility brings me to a little image that I always have, which is we are still pushing a ball up the hill and we have a mythical hump in front of us where the narrative, the predominant narrative, certainly not from you and for those working on this, but the predominant narrative out there is still appallingly that clean energy is more expensive, that it is less reliable, that there are no local benefits, that it's only about this global thing that everybody is worried about. It's a mythical hump. And for from from our perspective, if we could get over this mythical hump over to the other side, and that for me would be where we ought to be in two years, that we know for ourselves that we're over that mythical hump. But more importantly, how does everybody else know that we're over that hump and that those arguments are just completely knocked away?

Jennifer Granholm: [00:18:53] Yeah, I mean, this is such an important thing that people that people know, people who have installed solar panels, for example, and seeing their energy bills drop significantly. I was just this I was just last month at a house where the owner had installed solar panels and they had an electric vehicle that they were charging the solar panels with and they had an induction stove and they had a geothermal heat pump. So they'd put it all in and they had of course, they were on natural gas before. They're not they're not doing anything except for their their cars being powered by the sun. There, their electricity bill is now zero zero, whereas it was hundreds of dollars. Now, when people hear stories like that and they say, wow, that guy can do it, and if I can install this stuff at, you know, in a way that I can if I lease the panels, then it's less than what I can.

Christiana: [00:19:52] Finance it, you can.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:19:53] Finance it and that it or if you're low income, you can put it on your house. I mean, for for folks who are not in the low income category in the US, it's a 30% tax credit for you to put your put solar panels on and you can lease the rest. Right. Or finance it in some in some way. But if you're low income, if you qualify, you could have them put on for free. And to get people you know, people also are, as you know, concerned about, for example, the cost of electric vehicles. Rightfully. Right. That's the battery cost is the vast majority of it, even though we've seen battery battery costs come down 80% over the past couple of decades, it's still expensive. However, people are not aware that new models that are coming out, you know, the Chevy Bolt is under 30,000 and, you know, it's continuing to drop because the battery costs continue to drop because now we've got a bill that incentivizes the production of that in the United States and brings that cost down further through tax credits and through direct grants in addition to technology. So the technology has done all this work up to this point, and we'll continue to have it. But now the tax credits and the incentives also bring down the cost further. So all of this is to say, I think people have to see it and feel it when you realize you don't have to spend. Four bucks a gallon for gas or whatever the equivalent is wherever you live, and that you can just power it on cents per per gallon, if you will, Then it speaks for itself. I mean, this is why we're seeing a huge amount of uptake in electric vehicles, for example.

Christiana: [00:21:22] Yeah.

Tom : [00:21:23] Especially as the anxiety around doing anything else increases. I mean, we're seeing energy prices go up everywhere all the time. I mean, this is this is how you insure yourself against it. So, I mean, a big part of getting over that hump is everything you've talked about with all of the measures and the bills and the incentives and the grants. But it's also about the wall of support that can come as the private sector piles into this in more in a deeper way. And we're already seeing some of that, But it can go further. So talk to us as also about how the private sector is incentivized to really go big off the back of.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:21:51] Yeah, I mean, let me just say we we know that first of all, you know, according to the I think International Energy Agency, we need trillions invested in this clean energy sector every year by 2030 for this energy transition to happen. But the lion's share of that investment has to come from the private sector. The clean energy transition is private sector led, government enabled, and so we require private sector matches for all of the grants, for example, I mean, obviously for the tax credits that's going to be led by the private sector anyway. But for all of the grants for like the the clean hydrogen hubs, it's a 50% match and that 50% is going to come from the private sector In the in the months since the Inflation Reduction Act passed, we've seen at least $30 Billion, I think it may be more than that by now, in new US clean energy manufacturing investments from the private sector saying batteries are going to battery. I mean, huge number of battery factories all of a sudden popping up in the United States as a result of these incentives. And we need every company to follow suit, whether they're whether they're manufacturing the equipment or whether they are just reducing their own CO2 footprint.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:23:06] I mean, we this has got to be the private sector has to be leading this. And I will say this, you know, the the Biden-Harris administration, they've really opened up several opportunities for the private sector to get involved. So as an example, if I can just give you a couple of examples, Secretary Kerry's team, they launched this first mover's coalition at COP26, and that was with World Economic Forum. And then at that time, more than 50 companies in the coalition provided this crucial demand signal really for for clean energy to develop in those markets. And we we need to work with companies to launch, for example, the infrastructure law funded demonstration projects. We need the loans programs office. And again, that's that's a big office in the Department of Energy that's providing loan guarantees for major projects. And they're open for business. They got $350 Billion in added loan authority. Can you imagine? That is just a huge amount. But it's going to private sector entities that want to be able to build out these projects. So all of this, all of this is private sector partnered to make. And we just want to make sure that we are making the groundwork very fertile for them to be successful.

Tom : [00:24:21] Mm hmm.

Christiana: [00:24:22] And Secretary, one thing that I hear a lot from private sector that they feel is a bottleneck, especially for those who are investing in clean energy generation. Such a bottleneck because the United States, like most other developed countries, have completely outdated, outmoded, inefficient infrastructure for everything that it has to do with energy. Our grids are not up to the task of where we need to go this decade. And sadly, you know, modernizing the ribs is not quite as sexy a topic as electric vehicles and putting solar panels on your roof, etc., etc. is. But it is totally nuts and bolts that have to be done right. If our grids continue to be as outdated as they are, we're not going to be able to make that that transition successful. So for that less exciting part of this, what are your plans for for that?

Jennifer Granholm: [00:25:21] Yeah, we just announced $13 billion series of competitions on the grid, so we have just got a huge in the US, We have a huge amount of capacity that we have to add. We need a huge amount of capacity added. We basically have to either double or triple depending on how this moves the size of our electric grid. So we've got to add essentially 2000 gigawatts of clean energy to our grid to be able to get where we need to go, which is 100% clean electricity by 20.

Christiana: [00:25:53] And the grid will not do that. The current grid cannot do that.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:25:56] There is no way the current grid can do this. So we have so there's technology issues, so you can re conductor a lot of the existing grid to get around the NIMBY issues so that you can you know, there's a lot of highly efficient materials that can be used to be able to build those those transmission lines. But we also need to add new lines, particularly from places that are generating a lot of clean energy to places obviously where the demand is. So we what we are doing, we've got a whole we've got a series of planning studies that are in the final stages to be able to identify where are the real pinch points. We've got like a terawatt of power that is logged up into some of these interconnection points that is not able to be released because we don't have the we don't have the grid capacity to be able to take on the clean energy that that that is waiting in line essentially. So part of our challenge and this is I know this is true in the UK, I know it's true in other places too, is that you have state and local issues on top of the federal issues. Right. So the the good thing about the bipartisan infrastructure law is that it gives us what is known as backstop authority, meaning that we can we can override essentially we want to do it as a last resort because we know people are very sensitive about this is why the first resort is to be able to identify places and public lands and public rights of way where we already have the ability to install transmission towers and lines because we have the right of way and we don't have to get local authority.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:27:36] And so that's sort of the first area of preference. The second is to help the private sector get it by, we have a transmission facilitation program, it's called where the federal government is basically takes an ownership, the first bit of ownership on the line. So to de-risk it for the private sector and then gets paid back for that. So it's a revolving fund to de-risk the ability of putting up transmission from the private sector because they're not going to put it up unless there's they have some confidence that it's going to be used and those decisions will be made based upon the study, the need study that we are completing right now. And then, of course, the third is that that if worse comes to worse, then we can also deploy this backstop authority. But the bottom line is we have a series of tools now that are enabling us to upgrade the grid, make it more efficient, add more lines, and to be able to bust through some of the challenges that we've had before.

Tom : [00:28:33] Secretary Granholm, it is such a pleasure to talk to you. It is always so inspiring to hear your vision for the future. I just want to ask you our closing question before we let you go, and that is the podcast is called Outrage + Optimism. We think both of those are necessary at this critical moment. Can you please tell us, looking at where we are, how far we've come, what makes you feel optimistic about the future and what still gets you outraged that has not yet been done?

Jennifer Granholm: [00:28:55] Ok. Well I, I continue to be outraged. I'll say beyond like Putin's weaponization of energy and of weather now, you know, I'm still outraged by the extent to which we have already damaged our planet with obviously immense consequences for for communities. You know, in the United States alone last year it was $150 Billion in damages that we paid because of these extreme weather events. We know it's going to be higher in 2022. And that payment, that money is not just about the money. It's about the communities that are devastated, whether it's by fires or hurricanes or droughts or all of that. So so I'm outraged that people don't that some people don't see it. It's so obvious what's going on and that that there isn't that other people's air is not on fire as well to be able to to act with alacrity, act with urgency on getting this done. But I will say because of the tools that we have been given now, I am totally optimistic that we will be able to act with urgency now. I wasn't sure before we got these series of laws passed. You know, I was hopeful. But this makes investment in clean energy irresistible. And because it's irresistible, it will be irreversible. And that makes me enormously optimistic.

Christiana: [00:30:22] Because it's irresistible. It will be irreversible. Totally love that.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:30:28] It's such an honor to be on with both of you. Thank you so much.

Christiana: [00:30:33] Absolutely. Thank you so, so much for taking the time and sharing.

Jennifer Granholm: [00:30:36] You bet. Bye bye.

Tom : [00:30:37] Bye bye. Holy cow. Jennifer Granholm is a force of nature, I think are the words that Gina McCarthy used when she was on her way to Washington. She called us from a parking a car park. What seems like 20 years ago, it was probably about two years ago. Christiana, that's the first time you've ever met her, which is astonishing and I'm really glad that the podcast could bring you together. What were your reflections?

Christiana: [00:31:04] Well, I have seldom met a Secretary of Energy that has so much energy for her transformational task. Usually people in charge of this sector are honestly a little bit on the dry side and very technical and not passionate. I mean, very capable, but not passionate. But it's so delightful to hear her passion, her enthusiasm, her transformational thinking. I mean.

Tom : [00:31:32] Without sacrificing one inch of the technical capability. I mean, she could go as deep as anyone.

Christiana: [00:31:37] Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, really, really wonderful. So my sort of summary of of the impression that I got from her is how she is with everything that she has with every law, with every inch of mandate that she has, with everything that she has, how she's focusing on challenging the present in order to make the future possible, because she has both of those very much in view. She knows what the present is. She knows what what the challenges are, what the barriers are. And she has a very clear view view of the future. So how she's challenging the present to make that future possible is just fantastic.

Tom : [00:32:24] And also, I mean, you know, when you're not inside these processes, you don't always see the guiding hand that pulls the pieces together. And what was so fascinating to me, that was how she set out the interrelationship between the grants and the tax credits and the different elements of the bill and how the private sector comes in. And you can see the incredibly sophisticated and thoughtful guiding hand that has kind of illuminating this highway to the future that we want. It was really interesting to see the thought that had gone into those pieces and how they've been pulled together. So, I mean, God, I hope she's there for another six years till the end of this. Can you imagine what she will achieve? The United States won't look anything like it does today if she if she gets given that time. Now, we have another interview today. This is, as we said before, the US Bumper edition looking at domestic policy. And the other interviewee is none other than Ali Zaidi, the White House climate adviser. And Ali, is somebody that you met, Christiana, we met together a few months ago in New York, and I think you mentioned at the beginning of the interview that we did earlier today, and I also had dinner with in Sharm. He is incredibly inspiring and influential. I looked him up as part of getting ready for this chat. He is fully 12 years younger than me, which makes me feel incredibly old given that I'm only in my early forties and he's been doing this for a very long time, but he is brilliant. So here is Ali Zaidi.

Christiana: [00:33:53] Ali, it's so good to see you again. And I will remind you that a couple of months ago, we were together on a panel. It was the first time we had met. Tom was was in the audience as well. And being the facilitator of the panel, I actually asked not just the panel, but the entire room how optimistic are people about being able to reach the deadlines that science has given us, especially one half global emissions by 2030. And the room was full actually, of either current or potential funders on climate activities. So people who have a reasonable amount of information on what is going on in climate change. Ali, there was one person who raised his hand immediately, and then you were the only person. That's it. You were the only person. And then I saw, you know, some half way, you know, up sort of shoulder, high hands go up, but very timidly. Oh, oh, my gosh. You know, I mean, that that was a sobering moment, a very sobering moment. But it was also a really exciting moment because what it did for me was confirm the commitment of the White House, of President Biden, and of you to actually get things done in the United States. So thank you for raising your hand. And in in that context of optimism and confidence, we would like to ask you one thing before you took over from Gina. In fact, when Gina was taking over, I do remember that we had her on the podcast and she was pretty adamant about President Biden wanting to take an all of government approach. This is not just deal E. This is actually all US government tentacles, all agencies, all departments orchestrating to be able to reach the the commitments of the United States. Does that 'all of government approach' still stand and how does that relate to the NDC, to the nationally determined contribution that the United States has on the table? Load More

Ali Zaidi: [00:36:23] Well, first of all, it's it's great to be on with fellow optimists, I think. And, you know, this is the thing that gets us up in the morning and gets us to keep pushing forward, notwithstanding the starts and stops that we've had over time. I think we are not just on a positive linear trajectory. I think we're on one that is accelerating exponentially. And I and I don't just mean that in terms of clean energy deployment. I don't just mean that in terms of our ability to reduce emissions. I mean that in terms of the political economy that's backing this action. And in a weird way that actually is part and parcel of whole of government and what that means. And it's because we need all of those levers, but it's also because the federal government touches people in different parts of the economy in different ways in their life. We need to be making sure that climate is front and center and the solutions and the and the good news of taking action is front and center in all of those interactions. So just let me give you an example. Just last week I was on the phone with our secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, and we rolled out a new initiative to help protect people's pensions. So our Department of Labor protects people's pensions by enabling the folks responsible for managing those pensions to better integrate climate risk considerations.

Ali Zaidi: [00:37:55] And we've spent the last year, a year and a half, actually working with our colleagues at the Department of Labor and all of these pension managers to get them the information that they need. And it's not just looking at the dollars and cents of what workers experience every day, but it's also, you know, I've been working with Marty Walsh on these standards for the first time to protect our workers from extreme heat. So that's the Department of Labor, right? Not the place you'd expect for climate policy to be front and center. But we've got our secretary up front and focused on it. We have our Department of the Interior, which, you know, is a weird name for the agency that manages our lands and our coastlines. Right. So not just the interior, but in a way, the exterior as well. There we've got Secretary Haaland, who's gone from the record under the previous administration being one, to try to curtail and prevent offshore wind from taking off to being the person who's driving towards a 30 gigawatt by 2030 goal. And it's two commercial projects that are already underway, steel going into the ground. And she's doing it in a way that's not just about emissions, but we've baked in project labor requirements and incentives into the very way we are leasing these lands off our coasts.

Ali Zaidi: [00:39:25] So it's about environmental justice and worker empowerment and clean energy deployment, and that's our land manager, the Department of the Interior, doing that. We've got environmental justice offices that have been at climate offices that have been established at our Department of Justice, at our Department of Health and Human Services, where they've signed up basically the entire US health care sector to focus on resilience and focus on reducing its emissions. Our Federal Emergency Management Agency now has a whole wing focused on climate resilience and climate adaptation. And by the way, again, they're not just doing it in a same old, same old way. They've decided to embed Justice 40, which are which is our equity initiative into the way they're doing disaster recovery. When we look at the transportation sector, I visited and sorry to get so fired up about the whole of government approach, pretty bureaucratic response. But you know, I went to this is just an example. I went to this place that used to be a brownfield, right. Just nothing there in Toledo, Ohio. And I went there with Pete Buttigieg, who's the secretary of transportation, and with Robin Carnahan, who is the head of the Government Services Administration, the government Service Agency, the guys that buy our stuff for the federal government.

Ali Zaidi: [00:40:52] And we went there. And that brownfield facility now is a state of the art steel factory, and they are using a industrial process that's 50% cleaner than pig iron or what we would have imported otherwise. And Secretary Buttigieg is making it so that now state and local departments of transportation are creating buy clean approaches to buy that clean steel and cement. And then Robin is making sure that when the federal government goes out and buys steel, that's part of how we approach it. So in every single sector. Tom Vilsack at the Department of Agriculture signed up 50,000 farms, 20 million acres into climate smart agriculture practices just this fall. And by the way, all of the stuff that cuts across resilience, adaptation, climate justice, worker empowerment, all of that being advanced by every single agency of our Cabinet, Department of Defense, Department of State. No matter where you are, you are not escaping the reality of the science, the reality of this moment. And in the Biden administration, the reality of the fact that the person who sits in the Oval Office is impatient, restless, and sees not only crisis but profound opportunity and is pushing everybody to get there.

Christiana: [00:42:19] Well, of course, we want to stand up and applaud all of this Ali. It's such such a relief and so wonderful to hear all of this. And at the same time, we've just had mid-term elections. So what does that mean for everything that you have just enumerated, plus many other things that are ongoing? Is that a damper or is this actually already resting so deeply and firmly on the political economy that it is no longer going to be stopped by those who would want to stop policy? Which way does that go?

Ali Zaidi: [00:42:52] So, you know, a lot of election watchers focus on what happened in Washington. And if this is the decisive decade, it's the decade of delivery. Delivery means getting the steel to go in the ground. And for that to happen, you got to have buy in.

Christiana: [00:43:08] Green steel.

Ali Zaidi: [00:43:08] The green steel, the.

Christiana: [00:43:09] Green steel to go on the ground.

Ali Zaidi: [00:43:11] Absolutely. With union workers doing doing the work to make that happen. For for all of that to happen, we need state legislators, we need governors offices to be moving in the right direction. And they're Democrats and folks who ran on clean energy and on climate and this future economy that was going to be decarbonised did really, really well. We actually expanded control in statehouses. We expanded control in governors chambers. That is going to be critical to making sure that all of this stuff that we passed at the federal level actually maps out at the state level. And by the way, you got folks like Jay Inslee and J.B. Pritzker and Governor Whitmer, Whitmer and Hochul and others who are, I think, going to be dissatisfied to go as fast as the federal government. They're probably going to use this moment to go faster and faster. And we love that. So that's thing one. Often spectators of US politics look at the tip of the iceberg. I'm obsessed with what's under the water, and that's the state and local governments. That's where people mostly interact with the government. And that is now going faster in the direction of clean energy. Number two, I mean, I remember 2010, I was I was in the White House then. I remember what it felt like for it to really for control, to flip and for the agenda to feel like it had not been validated or vindicated by the voters in the way that we had hoped that it would resonate right out of the gate.

Ali Zaidi: [00:44:46] Now, obviously, ten years later, the health care law that was passed historically is producing so many benefits that despite vote after vote after vote of an effort to try to take it away. Now, it's just folks have given up on trying to reverse course on that. And what's remarkable here is that clean energy is producing already so vibrantly for the American people that they felt very confident vindicating their legislators and their president for the leadership that he showed in this last year, getting this set of bills through Congress. So I actually feel like the the signal sent by the American people is steel in the spine of folks who live in Washington, that they should actually stay the course, that this is actually what the American people want. And part of it has to do, I think, with the interaction of the prescription on climate and the macroeconomic moment that we're in. Right. So I think in a weird way, there is a confluence here where the prescription on climate and the prescription to deal with both macroeconomic and macro sort of call it spiritual concerns were the same and the president advanced it. Congress took action. States that stepped up to the plate to try to be partners in that. Every one of those actors, I think, was validated. Now, do I wish we had the house? Yeah, absolutely. Do I wish the US didn't draw and and scored a few more goals in the World Cup? Absolutely.

Tom : [00:46:30] I don't wish that. Just for the record for over here.

Ali Zaidi: [00:46:33] That's not as widely held. Isn't going to be widely held on this podcast. You know, you you want to you want to perform as as strongly as you can. But I think we defied expectations. And yet again, I think the folks who were optimistic were vindicated. And I and I feel like that's going to be that's a trend you can bet on if you're if you're taking climate action.

Christiana: [00:46:58] Well, I want to turn over to Tom, but just before I do, just for the record, I think this is the first time I have ever heard the term political economy, spiritual conditions. I believe that's what you said. I'm going to have to noodle on that one, Ali. But I love it. I just love that challenge. Tom, over to you.

Tom : [00:47:16] Yeah, I mean, I love that, too. And I want to come back to that political economy because the US political economy on this issue has.

Christiana: [00:47:22] Spiritual conditions for.

Tom : [00:47:23] Sure. But it's been such a cause for anxiety around the world for so long. So hearing you talk now is amazing. But I'd just like to ask you more specifically, first of all, when you guys turned up in Glasgow a year ago, there was huge skepticism that you were going to get it done in the course of the next 12 months and you came back to Sharm having passed these incredible bills in Washington. But you have said before and you've acknowledged that the bills that you have passed and the rules that are in place don't get you to where you need to be by 2030 yet. And so to just drill down one step further on this flipping of the house, you now need to presumably go back and pass more bills or are you going to wait and see the implementation of the IRA, see it improving people's lives on the ground and allow that to build the political economy that gives you the political space to go back and go further? How are you seeing those different forces play out?

Ali Zaidi: [00:48:19] Yeah, and I oh, man, I remember the headlines into and out of Glasgow and it it was humbling for that. But, you know, the thing I used to say to folks then was, okay, so we're in the decisive decade at that point. It's 21, 20, 21, maybe 2022. In what game of high stakes, one corner into the game? Do people look at the scoreboard and say, All right, I'm just going to stop playing for the rest of the game right? We're going to have to run through the tape on this. And hopefully as we're running through the tape in 2030, we've overperformed relative to our expectations. But let me let me drill down. So number one is the math. We we believe that we got around. We will get around a gigaton of emissions reductions, 1000 million metric tons out of the combination of the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act Bill and IRA as as we call them here.

Christiana: [00:49:25] And the happy couple.

Ali Zaidi: [00:49:27] The happy couple that will that will save the planet. So that I think is a really big deal. And and when you look at the error bands on that, they're not they're not insignificant. Right. So some people will say, you know, maybe it actually will come under 1000 million metric tons. Some folks say, well, maybe you could actually just on the back of this overperform, 100 and 1200 million metric tons and the flex comes largely in delivery. So this is where the state and local government part that I was talking about comes in. If we are actually able to effectively construct and interconnect on the power sector side at the sort of higher end of what's possible, and I'm not saying what's possible from like a technology breakthrough perspective or a financial breakthrough perspective. I'm just talking about can we connect the cord together as consistently as we need to, or will we be in the sort of place that so many renewables projects have found themselves in the last ten years where, you know, you're 15 miles away but you just like can't agree on cost allocation for those 15 miles and you don't feel the sense of urgency that you need to. And so you just don't connect the cord. That's a big challenge. And so one of the things legislatively that we're actually working through is legislation on permitting that would allow us to make sure that that delivery is happening as consistently as possible and the increasing the consistency and predictability of delivery in this decisive decade, I think, gets us to a higher end from just Bill and Ira. That's thing number one. Thing number two is, you know, people forget Congress has been passing laws for, you know, the last half century that will help us tackle a changing climate.

Ali Zaidi: [00:51:17] And we're harnessing those laws in doing just that one. One example is our methane proposal under the Clean Air Act. So the Clean Air Act, 40 some years old and it on its own gets us somewhere between a percentage point, percentage point and a half of additional emissions reductions relative to Bill and IRA. So if you think Bill or IRA get us to 40, 41, 42%, this is another percentage point in the direction of our NDC. So when you think about it, right, you're talking about closing maybe an eighth of the gap with just that one additional regulatory initiative. That's not the only one we're pursuing. We're going to do similar efforts for the transportation sector, for the power sector, make sure we can spur the transformation that we want to see in publicly owned and supported buildings in the rural cooperative sector, where I think we're starting at the beginning of an exponential curve of people being able to harness the clean energy opportunity. So that's like how I think we ladder up. And the third thing I'll say is, you know, when I look at and when we went into the NDDC process, so we're coming off the campaign, lots of poetry time for prose. We pull out the spreadsheet, Myself and and my deputy in the exercise, Sonia Agarwal, were led this sort of analytical team across the federal government or crunching through spreadsheets. And the thing that we sort of found in that moment and that's persisted as an insight, the industrial processes, especially that high heat application that we just have to we have to make a dent in that and we can't it can no longer be a beyond 2030 project. The industrial sector, the hard to abate industrial sector has to be a inside of 2030 project.

Christiana: [00:53:24] I'm going to give you a reframe of that concept. I suggest that we let go of the concept of hard to abate and completely substituted with have to abate.

Ali Zaidi: [00:53:36] Have to abate. I love that. I love that. I think that's absolutely right. I think that's absolutely right. And, you know, the state of analysis in the industrial sector is so interesting, right? So in the US, for example, we know the emissions profile of every power plant. We know where it is, we know how long it's been around, we know how it's financed. We know who works there. When you look at the industrial sector, we're just starting to gather that information and at the same time, tools that were never available to us before. New sources of fuel, for example, or capture technologies or just next generation material science that allows us to go from producing X to producing Y to produce X is coming to market very, very rapidly. So I think we're in a we're going to have to have a very high feedback loop with the private sector on this one sort of fast clip and I think Ira and Bill position us well to be to be well resourced in that exercise.

Tom : [00:54:50] Amazing.

Christiana: [00:54:51] Okay. Well, I'm not sure what to do because I want to ask you one more question, but we're running out of time and we still have to ask you our closing questions. So I'm going to package them and then you can see what you want to do with that.

Ali Zaidi: [00:55:02] Good.

Christiana: [00:55:03] So my pet peeve in the United States is how to depoliticise what has to be done on climate change. And I think everything that you have mentioned today is definitely very one of the consequences could be that we depoliticize. But would love to hear you talk about that. But sadly, we have to move to the closing question, which is always on this podcast, Ali. So what are you most optimistic about in addition to everything that you've already told us? And what are you still very concerned or outraged about that has not happened yet?

Ali Zaidi: [00:55:43] That's really good.

Christiana: [00:55:43] Like, for example, that it still is a political topic!

Tom : [00:55:45] That's really good. Leading the witness, Christiana.

Ali Zaidi: [00:55:49] That's really good. Look, I think that. The way we support the politics of taking action on climate. And this is maybe a little bit of an aggressive response relative to the way that you frame the question is...

Christiana: [00:56:09] Go for it.

Ali Zaidi: [00:56:10] Is not to try to depoliticize it, but to help the upside and the politics be felt in a positive fashion for more Americans. You know, for for the first time, the labor unions in the United States are really in common cause and common purpose, not just to accept and tolerate a shift to clean energy, but to hit the accelerator and move in that direction. You know, I remember the conversations we were having with the United Auto Workers two years ago and the ones that were having now. And now it's about how can we grow this faster here? Because we see the prize and we understand it. Literally just today, we're going to roll out new guidance from the Treasury Department, which has become like the climate Department that will that will make it so that to access the clean energy tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act, to access the full value of them, you have to have 10% of your labor hours from apprenticeships and you have to pay a prevailing wage. So, we are dealing people into the upside, right? So that's thing one is deal people into the upside more and more and more people. And I think by the way the cross sector cross government approach is about that, right? It's about making sure whether you're in the sector or in the industrial sector and everyone's being dealt in to the solution.

Ali Zaidi: [00:57:45] And then the second is being relentless about telling the story of good news, which brings me to the thing that makes me really angry. The same people who fed us denial, who then fed us delay, I think are fomenting a sense of cynicism here in the United States and around the world that no matter whether you show up or you organize, you strike on Fridays or some other day, no matter if you put good money into good projects and get a good return, for some reason, this is an incorrigible problem that we are doomed to fail. And and I don't think that's accidental. I don't think it's the process of stakeholders just resigning themselves. I think it's an affirmative and active strategy to foment cynicism. And we've got to fight that because that will be the thing that is our greatest risk, that we could shift direction and shift acceleration in this moment of truth. I'll tell you the thing that makes me the most optimistic, and that's the thing that's the antidote to that cynicism.

Ali Zaidi: [00:59:04] I was in Sharm and I ran into a couple of young folks who've been organizing for climate action around the world. There was a young person from Ecuador. He said, thank you for doing what you're doing in the United States because it helps me push my leaders. And it's been something that folks like me around the world have been using as the reason for our leaders to go faster and faster. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. I remember what it felt like to move to the United States when I was six years old. I remember America being a beacon of light on so many things. To think that what we've done in the last two years is not just seismic in terms of clean energy or on manufacture, lecturing or on competitiveness, but seismic in creating a sense of hope that's felt beyond our borders, that empowers the spirit and the boldness and the persistence and the courage that's going to take to roll over the cynics and get to where we need to go. That makes me optimistic as hell. So hopefully we can all do the things we need to do to keep giving young people around the world that sense of hope.

Christiana: [01:00:23] Absolutely. I recently, Ali, I recently read a really nice apparently it is the author is David or who I've never met, but a beautiful definition of hope. And he said hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up. And I love that. I love that. Right. Because it's not passive hope and then just sort of sit back. It's like, let's roll up our sleeves and get this done. So there you go. I think you are you are such a good embodiment of that. Very, very. Sleeves rolled up. Look at that. Very cool. There you go. I love it. I love it. Grateful. Super. Ali, thank you so much. Thank you so much for rolling up your sleeves today, yesterday and and tomorrow in this absolutely decisive decade.

Ali Zaidi: [01:01:16] Thank you so much. And I'll look forward to staying close.

Christiana: [01:01:20] Super. Thank you. Bye.

Ali Zaidi: [01:01:23] Thank you.

Tom : [01:01:30] So fabulous to get a chance to talk to Ali. Christiana, you're getting to know him a bit better now after having met him a couple of times. What what were your impressions of the second meeting?

Christiana: [01:01:39] Well, again, another incredibly enthusiastic person in the US.

Tom : [01:01:45] It's not fair. They're all in the US. They could be spread around a bit. Well, no, no, no. It's kind of in both.

Christiana: [01:01:51] The US needs this by, believe me, they're so far behind. So this is catch up time like so. So it's wonderful to see that. So many things that I resonated with in that conversation. But there was one thing that he said that. Sort of made me put a question mark, and that's the following. He drew a very interesting arc between those who were intent on denial at some point in time, having then moved over to being intent on delay and then now turning their efforts to dooming.

Tom : [01:02:35] Cynicism.

Christiana: [01:02:37] To cynicism. Well, he calls it cynicism. I just put another D because it's nicer alliteration, denial, delay and dooming. So here's my question, Tom. Does that actually mean that those who partake of the cynicism and the doomism are actually taking sides with those who have been in denial and delay?

Tom : [01:03:07] Well, that was that was certainly his strong implication, even if he judiciously fell short of being. And I would actually add another D and that is discord. I think that there is also there's no hard evidence for this, but there's actually quite a lot of circumstantial evidence that those who were previously engaged in in previous D's are now engaging in trying to create discord amongst those who are trying to create change and trying to convince everybody this is impossible. So I think that we need to spend a bit of time uncovering that because none of us want to think that this is a deliberate attempt to undermine progress. But the reality is that that probably is going on and...

Christiana: [01:03:49] Deliberate. Denial and delay was definitely deliberate. Yes. The question then is what happens with doomism and discord is that and maybe we're having it from both sides, maybe there is a very sincere, deep concern, deep pain that expresses itself as doomism and discord. And at the same time, maybe the doomism and the discord is also coming from those who are actually very intentionally injecting that into the system in order to to again, delay efforts.

Tom : [01:04:27] Yeah, I mean, I think that's true. And of course, the reality is that there is natural discord and there is natural doomism, but it's being fermented and fuelled, I think, deliberately. So that's something that we should probably uncover. And certainly his indication there was was sort of alarming in that regard as well.

Christiana: [01:04:45] Yeah.

Tom : [01:04:46] Yeah. I mean what a what a guy to be sitting there in the White House driving this forward. Just it's absolutely water to a parched land, isn't it?

Christiana: [01:04:58] Could I add, however, if we still have the time, I think his last point was also very important when he talked about the person from Ecuador, because, yes, this whole episode has been about the US from a domestic perspective. But let us not underestimate the ripple effect that of the United States. What is done in the United States does not stay in the United States. A - it has you know, it has technical and financial implications for the rest of the world, but also very, very strong and deep inspiration and role modelling, ripple effects. And and so while while we drew a very clear boundary around this conversation to focus just on the US, I thought his last point was very, very true, that it really does make a big difference what the United States does, how it does it, because it's such a gorilla in this on this field. So what the gorilla does makes a big difference for everyone else as well.

Tom : [01:06:07] Yeah. And of course, we saw that in the inverse a few years ago when Trump was elected. It gave oxygen to potential autocrats everywhere. The only other thing I would add alongside all of the positive elements is he was pretty bullish on his chances with Congress now being controlled by Republicans of that not being a major break to this agenda. And, you know, God knows I hope he's right and he knows a lot more about it than I do. But I really hope that what we don't see is Republicans with a really concerted effort to pull officials up to the Hill, to slow things down, to question budgets, to, you know, you can imagine the sort of mess that could be created, even if you assume that they're not going to get another big bill through. Yes. Still the delay, they could provide a significant and he didn't go there. He may have not gone there for other political reasons or he may think that it's not as bad as some people feel or fear. But that would be one thing I left being just feeling a little bit like, well, well, let's wait and see what happens. But yeah.

Christiana: [01:07:05] Yeah, no, definitely. I mean, they there will be very tempted to put all kinds of pebble stones and slippery bananas in the way, even if they don't want to, to do another legislation against this. But, but the temptation to stop this will be very great, especially ironically because the whole point of it is to show people that this is so irresistible, especially because, as Secretary Granholm explained, the whole point of this is to make it irresistible, to really democratize all the way down to the bottom of the pyramid, the benefits of this of this transition. And that's going to be very threatening to the Republican Party. So especially I mean, that's interesting, right? Because that is the strength of what they're intending. But it is also what the Republican Party will want to stop.

Tom : [01:08:00] Resist.

Christiana: [01:08:01] Yeah, will resist.

Tom : [01:08:03] Cool. So what what a different but fascinating and fantastic episode and what a privilege we get to talk to these great people on the podcast. I think that probably is a wrap, unless you got anything else to add before we finish.

Christiana: [01:08:13] That's a wrap.

Tom : [01:08:14] And as ever, we're ending this podcast by bringing you some music. This week we have a beautiful piece of music. The artist is BEL and the song is called Until the Day. Please enjoy this. We'll see you next week together with Paul.

Christiana: [01:08:26] Sorry. And very appropriately, BEL is from the United States.

Tom : [01:08:32] Here we go.

BEL: [01:08:35] Hey, everyone. I'm BEL. I'm a singer songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. And the song I chose for you is a song I put out in 2020. It's called Until the Day. And I made it remotely with a friend of mine, and we were both trying to express our frustration with everything happening in the world at the time. And I chose the song because it feels still relevant today when we're thinking about climate change and the crisis that we're in right now and basically just urging people to remember they have a voice that can be heard and do what you can to help the planet. So I hope you enjoy and you can check out my recent release called Jet Lag. It's out everywhere. So thank you guys for listening and thanks for having me on the podcast.

Clay: [01:13:23] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. How are you doing? How's everybody? How's everybody doing? I'm Clay, producer of this podcast. The track you just heard was Until the Day by BEL. That's b, e, l. Now you can add BEL to your Spotify rotation so that she ends up on your Spotify wrapped 2023 link in the show notes. It's so great to have a US artist on this week. My recommendation for your weekend listen is her song Lights, which is actually off the release that she mentioned in her voice note to us titled Jet Lag. And actually that title track is a really great peaceful, warm indie spin, too. So I was thinking about it. BEL feels like a Polaroid of you and your friend on a road trip or like taking a nap on brand new orange shag carpet at a really fancy house in the Hollywood Hills. Hey, Greg, am I a music critic yet? The podcast sounds like a plan needs to have me on to review albums on their podcast. Again, how cool. She's great. BEL. BEL, a US based artist on the podcast for the US special. That's how we do it. Thank you to BEL and thank you to our guests This week, Secretary Jennifer Granholm and National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. Thanks for joining us this week on the podcast. We've got their socials in the show notes. You can follow them. I just wanted to add that Secretary Granholm was formerly the governor of Michigan, my home state. And so meeting her was such a privilege. I wish we got badges for stuff like this, you know, like a little vest or something. You know, when you meet the governor of your state or you, like, build a canoe or something you like, you get one of those badges.

Clay: [01:15:20] What are those called? Merit badges? Merit badges. I want a 'I met the governor' merit badge. And actually, while we're at it, I also need a 'I met the Secretary of Energy' badge. Thanks for entertaining me there. Tom mentioned at the top of the episode our listener survey, which we need you to fill out. Your input is going to heavily shape Outrage + Optimism in 2023. And so we really want to hear what you think. So the links in the show notes, it only takes a few minutes to complete and it's perfect for procrastinating at work. Or here, Here we go. I give you permission to exit. We all get into these right in unbearable conversation. Here's what you can do. You're in. You're in a conversation you want to get out of. You just say, Oh, my God, I'm so sorry. My friend Clay needs me to do something. I apologize. I got to go. Then pull your phone out, walk away, and, hey, fill out the survey and you've done it. You got out of something and you gave your input to something. Look at you. But regardless, if you don't have to do that, that's great. Thanks for filling out the survey. Link is in the show notes to the survey. Thank you for filling it out. Ok, wow. Episodes done feeling good here in the US with our men's national team going to the knockout stages. Oh, what a couple of games. I'm going to catch the game this weekend versus the Netherlands. I hope you all have a great weekend as well. We'll be back next Thursday for another episode, USA. See you then.


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