It’s the campaign season for the 2020 USA Presidential election, and of course there are some crazy things happening. Recently an issue arose over Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s work for McKinsey and Associates, and are there any skeletons in his closet because of that. Buttigieg managed to get McKinsey to release the list of clients he’d worked for, and he has also penned a post on Medium giving his explanation of what he did during those three years. One of those projects is right in line with issues we care about at The Long Tail Pipe – namely whether society can “combat climate change” through “energy efficiency”.
Clearly that’s an area of great potential, since any resource, whether it is energy or materials, that we do not consume will obviously lessen the environmental impact of our society. An LED light bulb that produces 1000 lumens while consuming 10 Watts is much better than an incandescent light bulb that consumes 100 Watts to produce the same quantity of light. That’s what energy efficiency means – to produce the same benefit while consuming less energy.
In Buttigieg’s post – My time at McKinsey – he outlined the work that McKinsey assigned him to, and claimed that “I never worked on a project inconsistent with my values, and if asked to do so, I would have left the firm rather than participate.”
Since writing that post McKinsey has released Mayor Pete from the NDA which precluded listing the clients he’d worked for. But in the post, he was able to identify a few things, including one specific project.
The entry covering 2008-9 reads:
Working mostly in Connecticut, I worked on a project co-sponsored by a group that included the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, other nonprofit environmental groups, and several utility companies, to research opportunities to combat climate change through energy efficiency. This work was published as a report entitled “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy”, which is publicly available and includes the full list of co-sponsors.The Moment by Pete for America
Buttigieg’s name doesn’t appear in the document, indicating he wasn’t any sort of lead author. One hopes that Mayor Pete is truly aligned with the tone of that report. From beginning to end it is full of good ideas about reducing energy and resource consumption, and thereby producing positive benefits. The Executive Summary includes this gem:
The central conclusion of our work: Energy efficiency offers a vast, low-cost energy resource for the U.S. economy – but only if the nation can craft a comprehensive and innovative approach to unlock it. Significant and persistent barriers will need to be addressed at multiple levels to stimulate demand for energy efficiency and manage its delivery across more than 100 million buildings and literally billions of devices. If executed at scale, a holistic approach would yield gross energy savings worth more than $1.2 trillion, well above the $520 billion needed through 2020 for upfront investment in efficiency measures (not including program costs). Such a program is estimated to reduce end-use energy consumption in 2020 by 9.1 quadrillion BUTs, roughly 23 percent of projected demand, potentially abating up to 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually.“Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy”
Amen! Right On! The report went on to give these five points:
- Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs while the nation concurrently develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources
- Formulate and launch at both national and regional levels an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted, and emerging approaches to unlock the full potential of energy efficiency
- Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding required by any plan to capture energy efficiency
- Forge greater alignment between utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers, and energy consumers
- Foster innovation in the development and deployment of next-generation energy efficiency technologies to ensure ongoing productivity gains
As good as that report is, Buttigieg was only a bit player in its creation. What is his own opinion now that he is running for President? His plan, called Mobilizing America: Rising to the Climate Challenge, is full of great ideas. And, energy efficiency plays a key role.
The plan has three pillars:
- Build a Clean Economy. The U.S. must invest in talent and enterprise here at home to unlock new technology and bring together partners to reduce emissions across the electricity, transportation, industrial, and agricultural sectors. We must create clean energy jobs, strengthen our rural communities, and protect America’s natural resources. Our intention is to promote a clean and prosperous future for ourselves and our children and to prioritize justice and inclusion as we embrace these changes.
- Invest in Resilience. We are already feeling the effects of climate change, whether it’s farmers affected by floods and shorter planting seasons or communities managing storm surges or devastating forest fires. Our plan makes our cities and states more resilient by prioritizing our communities and focusing on infrastructure and disaster preparedness.
- Demonstrate Leadership. Combating climate change will require American leadership to bring our nation together and make the fight for a cleaner future a global priority. In doing so, we can also restore America’s badly damaged credibility by leading the world in rising to this challenge while practicing what we preach at home.
Very good. The plan goes on to talk about building a clean energy economy, doubling the amount of clean electricity by 2025, in 2040 requiring that all new heavy-duty vehicles be zero-emissions, and so on.
It’s refreshing to have a political leader pushing a policy idea who has actual experience with the issues at hand.
While that report is very good we have to remember the conditions we’re living in. Instead of a principled debate over the value of different energy policies and how energy choices impact climate change, our collective attention is on just how much of a criminal is President Trump.
The need to address climate change is urgent. Policies like what is described in that McKinsey report, and Buttigieg’s proposed plan, are very good, and are very much what must be implemented. Elections have consequences, and the 2020 election is of grave importance on many fronts. My friends, choose well.
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