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The Problem

The problem for humanity right now is the catastrophic impact of excess carbon emissions. The critical path forward is to reach zero CO2 emissions by 2050. It is inevitable that humanity will continue to have an insatiable demand for energy.

It’s not a new problem. In 1938, British scientist Guy Callendar made the first link between a 10% increase in CO2 and a 0.5 degree Celsius increase in the Earth’s temperature. By 1977, scientists began warning that the world was going to get dramatically warmer in the 21st century with potentially catastrophic results. By 2006 the Stern Review demonstrated that the dollar cost of inactivity is grossly higher than the cost of taking early action to stop it. That same year, Al Gore made the very public case through “Inconvenient Truth”.

The core solution isn’t new either - it’s been 6 years since the Paris Climate Accords. It's clear we need to cut emissions quickly and dramatically. To the point where there is a high degree of alignment that humanity needs to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

It’s not a technology problem. We have the tech - solar, wind, and utility-scale storage. The price of utility-scale solar has dropped over the last decade. Rooftop solar too. Electric Vehicle (EV) production and adoption are rising. Utility-scale storage and EV battery costs are dropping.

It’s not a strategy problem. We know that in order to get to zero CO2 emissions, in the next decade we need to rapidly scale up zero-emission electricity production to meet current and future demand. We also know demand will rise as we use energy to mitigate and adapat to the changing climate.

We’ve been “working” on it for decades and yet we haven’t made nearly enough progress.

The governments of the top-emitting countries are under enormous pressure from entrenched, well-funded incumbents that want to go slowly, if at all. In the U.S., Investor-owned utilities are highly regulated at a federal and local level as monopolies further complicating bringing clean energy to market.

Even the most progressive policymakers retreat when fuel prices spike (opening the strategic reserves, encouraging more drilling) or when mass layoffs are threatened by the fossil fuel industry. On top of all that, we are still so reliant on incumbent fuels that disruptions (or even threats of disruptions) have an impact on the entire economy.

Individuals feel they have little agency - changing your light bulbs is low impact; buying an electric vehicle is high cost. Further, getting to zero implies sacrifice, another barrier for people to engage.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for even the most highly motivated individuals is they don’t have a mechanism to participate directly in making a meaningful impact they can experience and believe in.

This is the problem we are focused at Zettawatts


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