1,000 corporations vs. utility execs: Who is right on 100% clean power?

A new blueprint from a billionaire-led coalition that includes some of the nation’s largest corporations is backing ambitious clean energy policies being pushed by President Biden, even as utility executives are expressing doubts about them.

Known as America Is All In, the coalition has more than 1,000 corporate members — including Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., Google LLC, Microsoft Corp. and Walmart Inc. — as well as three states; 13 counties; and hundreds of cities, universities and faith groups. Chaired by the billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), among others, the group emerged in 2017 as a pro-Paris-deal counterweight to the Trump administration, and has since pivoted to promoting what it calls an “all-of-society” approach to addressing climate change.

Its road map released Monday identified “breakthrough” climate policies that could put the U.S. on track with a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as sought by President Biden. And it argued for the continued relevance of climate policies made below the federal level.

“In recent years, local leaders across the country stepped up to take on climate change when the White House would not,” said Bloomberg in a recorded speech aired Monday during an unveiling of the report at New York City’s Climate Week conference.

“Today’s report shows that local efforts remain as important as ever,” added Bloomberg, who is also a special envoy on climate ambition for the United Nations secretary-general.

States and cities should require all new buildings to be zero-emissions by 2030, while phasing out gas cars and moving to 100 percent carbon-free power by 2035, it found. Those policies have so far been implemented by a brief list of jurisdictions, often to resistance from fossil fuel industry, real estate developers, the auto industry and utilities.

Corporations and civil society groups should also get involved through steps like training a clean energy workforce, or reaching deals to power facilities with 100 percent zero-carbon electricity, the coalition said.

Most of those same recommendations should be embraced by federal legislators, too, it said, along with an 80 percent reduction in electricity’s emissions by 2030 — a key tenet of the reconciliation bill being considered by Democrats in Congress.

Yet “the size and the fate of that [reconciliation] package are uncertain,” and the bipartisan infrastructure package contains “only a fraction” of the electric vehicle charging funds requested by the Biden administration, noted the blueprint.

Given that uncertainty, states and cities could end up being more than just a temporary test bed for Biden’s climate agenda, and instead become the central overseers of clean energy markets, along with big business and other subnational actors, according to the coalition.

“Without a doubt, the next month or two will be the best chance for some years for the federal…

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