Energy for the People
The Green New Deal and the Technical/Political Potentials of Grid Transformation

The US electric grid is often described as “the largest machine in the world.” Under a Green New Deal, how could this machine be brought under public ownership and social control - and rapidly re-engineered to eliminate carbon emissions? These multiple and overlapping transformations–-critical if the climate justice movement is to accomplish its central goals-–present unique and complex challenges.

This panel examines the recent history of US energy systems, from Clinton-era deregulation to the fossil extraction boom under Obama and Trump. It examines the massive investment gap in renewable energy under the current, market-based framework for drawing down emissions. And it unearths the histories of racism, colonialism, and oppression that are baked into our current energy systems.

Major questions remain about what a transformative approach to energy should be: What can a democratic, racially just, and ecologically sound energy system look like? What sort of grid architecture will allow the full integration of solar and wind energy? Where can popular campaigns target vulnerable nodes of capitalist ownership and control? How can labor articulate policies that will create large numbers of secure union jobs for workers to carry out this transformation?

We draw on recent campaigns around energy democracy, Just Transition, and GND, to stimulate productive discussion: How can energy systems be transformed by popular struggles in the era of climate change?

Sponsored by Science for the People.

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