A Clean Energy Future Must Embrace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

by | Oct 5, 2021 | Stories

As we move toward a clean energy future, we must prize the values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The electric power industry keeps the power flowing, and it is essential that we reflect and equitably represent the customers and communities we serve. At Edison International, we have seen — and shown — how DEI leads to more innovation, greater creativity and increased collaboration.

It holds similar value and importance for the long-term health of the industry — and the planet: DEI is crucial to winning the fight against climate change.

Mitigating and adapting to the effects of the changing climate — and driving the broader transformation of the electric power industry — will require diverse, equitable and inclusive ideas and approaches to affordability, clean energy, cybersecurity, beneficial electrification, grid modernization, reliability, resilience and safety. The transition to a clean energy future must be equitable and affordable across society while ensuring the electric system remains reliable and increasingly resilient to a changing climate.

The Climate Leadership Conference gives Edison International an avenue to actively seek diverse perspectives and share inclusive ideas to achieve net-zero solutions. CLC provides an opportunity to learn from others about what’s working and what lessons can be applied to the work at Edison International, Southern California Edison and Edison Energy.

The urgency of our mission has been made all too clear by the devastating effects of extreme weather due to climate change. Studies show that disadvantaged communities suffer disproportionately more from the adverse effects of climate change and from pollution.

In 2019, Edison International subsidiary SCE published Pathway 2045, a data-driven analysis of the steps that California must take to reach its goals of carbon neutrality by 2045 while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Pathway 2045 concluded that the most affordable, reliable and equitable approach to meet those goals requires economywide deep carbon reductions, not just in the electric power sector. Leveraging clean power to electrify multiple sectors has the added health benefit of reducing nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions, which are heavily concentrated in disadvantaged communities. The significant transformation ahead will support the principles of equity and environmental justice while helping all electricity customers attain the economic benefits of a clean energy future.

While electricity usage and, therefore, electricity bills will rise with massive economywide electrification, SCE’s analysis shows that the average California customer will see their total 2045 energy costs decline by one-third, thanks to a shift away from fossil fuels and the greater efficiency of electric technologies.

California has some of the nation’s most ambitious and forward-looking climate policies, yet we must accelerate the pace of change if California is to meet its 2030 and 2045 goals. Edison International recently released Mind the Gap: Policies for California’s Countdown to 2030, which shows the state must adopt market-transforming policies and incentives within the next one to two years.

California has reduced GHG emissions by an average of 1% per year since 2005. That’s notable given California’s economy, the fifth largest in the world, has grown 3% per year over the same period. However, Mind the Gap shows that California must quadruple the rate of its emissions reduction each year from 2019 to 2030 to meet its 2030 GHG reduction goal. There is also a crucial role for the federal government to play, especially to help create functioning markets that support the electrification of key sectors. Mind the Gap offers that public policy must be reframed to consider historical, present and future inequities and the inherent uncertainty and risk underlying future impacts of climate change. This has significant implications for planning, funding needs, funding mechanisms and program and project execution.

It’s a big task and no one individual, company, sector or region can manage the clean energy transition alone. It will take all of us, working together, to enable an affordable, reliable and just transition for everyone. Edison International will continue to make good on our promise to harness the diverse wisdom and talent of our teammates, partners and communities to lead and align the clean energy transition with the principles of equity, environmental justice and affordability for all.