Blog #4: Is that really a $20 bill?

Welcome back! I am finishing up my sixth week at Carbon180; wow I can’t believe I am more than halfway done with the internship! This internship has already been such an unbelievable experience. I can tell that Carbon180’s internship program was meticulously and intentionally structured to give the interns a well-rounded professional experience. They have integrated interns into projects that the full-time staff is working on which has given me an incredible glimpse into the professional environmental field. They also host lunch and learns about once a week where they gather experts, both from the Carbon180 team and outside Carbon180, to discuss certain topics such as appropriations and congressional outreach. My favorite event that was organized for the interns has to be the career panel. The entire Carbon180 full time staff took the time to discuss their professional history and explain how they ended up working with carbon removal at Carbon180. Everyone’s story was uniquely unpredictable and eye-opening.

I just finished my outline for my final report. As I mentioned in my previous blog posts, my final report will detail a couple policy recommendations I have for Carbon180 in regard to Carbon, Capture, and Storage, specifically centered around environmental and social justice. I am extremely grateful that Carbon180 has allowed me to gear my final report with an environmental justice focus. As I dive deeper into reports and statements about environmental justice and CCS, I sometimes find myself asking more and more questions and realizing that I know less than I think I know. This has been one frustrating thing as I continue researching because it sometimes feels as though I am taking steps back and uncovering more holes that need to be filled. However, I realized that I will never learn all about federal climate policy in 10 weeks and need to re-evaluate my expectations. I also realized that the perfect answer isn’t just sitting out there waiting for me to find it; otherwise, this wouldn’t be such a controversial topic.

Last week, the policy team at Carbon180 read A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis by Eugene Bardach. One thing that we discussed during our book club meeting was the 20 dollar bill test that Bardach discussed in their book; imagine that you were walking with your friend and your friends says, “look, it’s a 20 dollar bill!” and your immediate response is “it can’t be a 20 dollar bill, otherwise someone else would have picked it up.” This test is extremely relevant to policy; if your policy recommendation is such a great idea, why hasn’t it been implemented? When I think I have come across an amazing policy idea, the 20 dollar bill test makes me take a step back and really think critically about not only the advantages, but the disadvantages and the obstacles that must be overcome to implement it.

This week, I was able to attend the “CARB Workshop: Fuels and Infrastructure for a Carbon Neutral Economy” hosted by the California Air Resources Board. There were two really interesting panels that focused on fuels and infrastructure in the carbon neutral field. One thing that really stuck out to me was when Betony Jones, the Founder of Inclusive Economics, discussed how we need to change our perspective of a just transition to be more wholistic. She explained how we need to change thinking from:

  • Lowest upfront cost to how do we achieve best value
  • Any job is good to no one deserves a bad job
  • We need jobs to we need good jobs
  • There aren't many fossil fuel workers affected to behind every job lost is a person whose life is dependent on that work
  • Jobs matter (more the better) to what is the quality of those jobs

Although these are not very complex or mind blowing concepts, they did make me re-evaluate my perspective on a wholistic and just transition.

I cannot wait to finish up my final report and blog post to share what I have learned this summer at Carbon180.