Electrify every energy flow that is currently powered by fossil fuels, including buildings, transportation, and manufacturing.
Electrifying everything refers to replacing our fossil-fuel economy with wind, solar, hydro, electric vehicles, heat pumps, and a masterfully designed electric grid that allows a two-way transfer of energy. According to physicist Saul Griffith, if we electrify the whole world economy, we will need less than half of the primary energy we currently use. The complete switch from fossil fuels to renewables such as wind and solar will reduce overall energy by 23 percent, for starters. Electrifying transportation will save another 15 percent, eliminating mining and refining of fossil fuels will save another 11 percent, electrifying buildings will save 6–9 percent, and removing fossil fuels in the production of our daily materials will save another 4–5 percent. These figures are granular of course, but they describe how electrification results in emissions efficiency—we can achieve the same amount of work and meet the same needs with far fewer carbon emissions.
Replace fossil-fuel appliances with electric ones when retired. If you live in your own home, consider switching any remaining cooking and heating appliances powered by fossil fuels to electric ones. First, you may want to update your breaker box to handle at least three times the current electric load. You may also want to replace your gas heater with a heat pump and swap your gas stove for an induction stove. If you live in a detached house with a fireplace, lawn mower, and leaf blower, you can also switch to electric devices. You may also want to opt for the most energy-efficient appliances available. If you are living in a rental home, speak to your landlord about upgrading these appliances. For more information, see Buildings Nexus and Heat Pumps Nexus.
- Here is a guide to selecting a new circuit breaker for your home. This guide can help you anticipate the steps required for installation.
- You can use this guide to identify an induction stovetop suitable for your needs.
- Here is a guide for purchasing heat pumps.
- Here is a guide to purchasing an electric fireplace.
- Here is a guide to buying an electric lawn mower.
- Here is a guide to getting an electric leaf blower.
Drive an electric car or use public transport. Electrifying transport can reduce overall energy demand by 15 percent. On the demand side, you can play your part by using electric transport modes as much as possible. Most public transport—such as trams, subways, and metro rail networks—have been powered by electricity for decades. Many governments around the world are also investing in electrifying their public bus fleets. If you live in a location where active mobility or public transit is unavailable, make sure you are driving an electric vehicle or intend to switch to one for your next vehicle. See Urban Mobility Nexus and Electric Vehicles Nexus for more information.
Install on-site renewable energy or a switch to a renewable utility provider. Consider installing a rooftop solar system, residential wind turbine, or use a hybrid renewable energy system to cover your building’s energy needs. You can install solar on arooftop as long as there is an area that is not covered by shadows from trees or other buildings. You can also install a household battery to store energy when your on-site renewables are not actively producing energy. This will help reduce your reliance on electricity from the grid and and will reduce your utility bills during peak energy periods. If you are unable to install renewable energy on-site either due to cost or space constraints, switch to an energy provider with 100 percent renewable electricity, or a utility with a larger renewable energy mix. See Solar Nexus, Wind Nexus, and Energy Storage Nexus for more information.
Slow down consumption. Even though electrifying everything will ultimately reduce overall energy use, it will still require doubling the amount of electricity by 2050 to meet expected demand. Some of that demand addresses the basic energy needs in low-income countries. However, a large portion of energy demand goes toward a culture of consumption that encourages quick, cheap, and disposable goods. By slowing down our individual consumption of resources, we can find greater alignment with the rate at which our planet regenerates, and also reduce the overall energy demand built into the production of each object we own. Such a shift is especially required of individuals living in wealthier countries, who have a higher rate of per capita energy consumption.
- Buy less clothing. You can consider joining the slow fashion movement by choosing to care for your existing wardrobe, by extending its life through repair and reuse. See Clothing Industry Nexus for more information.
- Reduce food waste. The food industry is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, especially at the manufacturing stage. Ending food waste would result in at least a 30 percent reduction in food energy use, while also resulting in the potential to regenerate land and water. To find out ways you can contribute to ending food waste refer to Wasting Nothing Nexus.
- Share equipment and appliances. Pieces of equipment like lawn mowers and other electric tools are used for maybe a few hours each month, and stay idle for the rest of the year. Rather than individually owning this equipment, consider co-owning these tools with your neighbors. You can even house them in a community center to be used on an as-needed basis. Such a model can also work for electric vehicles.
- Travel responsibly. Flights are energy intensive and are run on fossil fuels, as are cruise ships, which burn heavy fuel oil, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels available. These forms of travel use large amounts of energy and will be more difficult to electrify. Be aware of the emissions and environmental degradation that result from your travel choices. Commit to avoiding cruise ships altogether and air transport as much as possible. If you must fly, you can consider taking these steps to reduce your impact. Where possible, travel by land using shared transport such as trains, buses, or carpools.
Join a fossil-fuel divestment movement. Find out if the institutions you are affiliated with invest in or loan to fossil fuels companies or companies that support drilling, mining, exploration, and extraction. If yes, ask them to divest from such activities. Whether a university, foundation, pension fund, local authority, faith-based organization, or company, there are ways to divest from fossil fuels. Join or organize a divestment campaign. Explore 350.org, Fossil Free, and Stop the Money Pipeline for details.
Stop new pipeline construction. More than 9,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in the United States are currently being built or expanded and another 12,500 miles have been approved or announced. From the Dakota Access Pipeline, to the Keystone XL pipeline, to the Atlantic Coast pipeline, environmental movements led by Indigenous peoples on whose land these projects are planned have been essential in stopping any new projects. If you are living in a state where there are planned projects, join existing grassroots coalitions organizing to stop this expansion and instead invest in renewable energy and electric grids.
Speak up about a clean electric future. Write an op-ed to a newspaper or post on social media about transit needs in your neighborhood. Consider writing longer pieces for online sites such as Medium, like this one about the benefits of electrification to effectively decarbonize.
Elect climate-forward candidates. Vote in national elections and local ones. Learn more about the platforms the candidates are running on, and how renewable energy and electrification features on their agenda. Encourage your friends, family, and communities to vote too. You can also learn more about the financial ties of already elected officials in the United States by looking through the Follow the Money database. If there is a particular candidate running for an upcoming election, consider supporting their campaign by signing on as a volunteer. For more information, visit Politics Industry Nexus.
Building and Homeowners
Electrify your buildings. There are many ways to electrify existing buildings, including doing building retrofits, installing heat pumps and renewable energy, and switching to smart thermostats. See Buildings Nexus for more information.
- Update your electric panel. Your electric panel, sometimes called a breaker box, is a safety switch in your home that automatically shuts off when there’s too much electrical current running through it. It helps prevent damage to electrical devices and your home. Many homes do not have electric panels that have the capacity to support a fully electrified home. Consider upgrading to a unit that has two to three times the existing capacity.
- Incorporate residential renewable energy. Consider installing a rooftop solar system or residential wind turbine, or using a hybrid renewable energy system to cover your building’s energy needs. You can install solar on rooftops as long as there is an area that is not covered by shadows from trees or other buildings.
- Install a small home battery to meet energy demands. As your home or building gets increasingly electrified, installing a small home battery will make economic sense, as a backup for personal energy demands as well as helping to make the grid more robust.
- Install Heat Pumps. Many buildings rely on boilers and air conditioners using heating oil or natural gas, or large air-conditioning units to cool the premises. Heat pumps, whether for single-family homes, condominiums, apartments, or commercial buildings are an energy-efficient (nearly 50 percent more efficient) way to replace old heating and cooling technologies. Heat pumps are essentially reverse air conditioners. They convert cool air to hot air, and in the summer can do the opposite and cool the air. Like air conditioners, they use external power to compress a refrigerant. You can also install a thermal store, which stores extra energy generated by a heat pump during times of additional heating. See Heat Pumps Nexus for more.
- Invest in Smart Home technologies. Smart Home technologies refers to the range of products that help automate the energy consumption in your house and help you reduce your energy consumption from the grid by using on-site batteries or renewables. Consider installing smart power strips, thermostats, blinds, lighting ,or appliances to simplify your daily routine and as a result save energy and money. For more information see Buildings Nexus.
Provide clean energy through smart grids. A key component of electrifying everything is ensuring that all the devices that are electric run on clean energy. This is why it is so important to clean the grid. Smart grids are essentially “giant levers” that impact millions of distributed technologies at once. Many studies show that fully renewable electric grids are feasible in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Still, removing fossil fuels from grids and replacing them with renewable energy requires serious reengineering to account for the variability of solar and wind. This results in load issues in the grid. The grids of the future will need to accommodate multiple smaller and geographically distributed power sources, store energy for peak usage, and also sense and measure energy use in homes and businesses.
- Swell Energy is setting up virtual power plants in the United States, where several homes with solar-powered batteries are networked together using software and function as a single energy storage resource.
- Wärtsilä has created a hybrid grid solution in Finland that coordinates energy generation of many renewable resources along with the existing energy demand. The grid is outfitted with software that allows communication between the supply and demand-ends of energy. This resulted in an 80 percent reduction in fossil-fuel usage.
Provide clear connection requirements for distributed renewables. Connecting a distributed generation system such as a home solar or wind system can be tricky for many due to differing guidelines of each grid operator. By providing a clear set of guidelines as well as a point of contact for grid-connection requests, you will help individuals and collectives reduce energy loads during peak periods, and also allow excess electricity to be fed back into the grid for use.
Electrify public transport fleets. The transport sector generates a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions and is also responsible for urban air pollution. The widespread electrification of transportation systems like buses is an important step in electrifying everything. See Urban Mobility Nexus for more information.
- The city of Shenzhen in China has the world’s first and largest fully electrified bus service.
Update building codes. Building codes govern the energy consumption of buildings and control elements such as insulation and energy efficiency. State and local governments have the power to select which codes are adopted and enforced, and play a big role in deciding whether new buildings will be part of an electrified and decarbonized future. Building codes can expedite both new construction and major retrofits with all-electric code requirements such as EV-ready wiring and charging equipment and a rooftop solar mandate.
- California has become the first state in the United States to pass building codes to make all-electric heating and appliances the default choice for newly built homes.
Become a natural gas–free city. Several cities in the United States are using gas bans to transition to fossil-free cities. In Santa Cruz for example, all construction permit applications for new buildings must be designed without natural gas. Cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are coming up with transition plans for decarbonizing their gas utilities. Some cities are even going a step further and passing resolutions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035, such as Takoma Park, Maryland.
File suits against fossil-fuel interests. Around the world, lawyers are holding fossil-fuel companies to account for the unequivocal harm that fossil-fuel extraction and consumption is doing to our planet and all life on it. There have been 1,600 climate-related lawsuits filed in 2020 alone. One of these was the lawsuit filed by Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison to seek damages from fossil-fuel companies for their fraudulent and deceptive practices. In December 2019, the Netherlands Supreme Court upheld a ruling in favor of a campaign group demanding the Dutch government move faster to cut carbon emissions. In all these cases, lawyers are finding creative ways to use the law for regeneration.
Work toward job guarantees and retraining. Cleaning up energy grids, retrofitting homes and buildings, and electrifying public transport require a large number of workers to be deployed to the task. This kind of mobilization is expected to create over 25 million jobs in the United States in just the next five years. Workers, especially those in fossil-fuel industries, can consider joining unions to organize around job guarantees and retraining toward a clean energy and electrified economy.
Technology Workers and Data Scientists
Develop software that reduces energy consumption on grids. Smart grids of the future require software that forecasts and manages power consumption, especially during peak periods. This software will be essential in redistributing energy and managing stored energy on the grid. Demand management technology, which uses dynamic pricing, will also be helpful in encouraging consumers to switch to off-peak electricity consumption.
Electrify your production process. Electrification of manufacturing depends on each industry. Most electrical equipment and machinery manufacturers currently source 40 percent of their requirements from electricity and have the greatest potential to fully electrify their equipment and transportation fleets. Manufacturing leaders can work towards a transition plan with their vendors and providers that will lead to complete electrification. Energy-intensive industries such as steel and chemical production can explore and invest in research for emerging green hydrogen technologies. See Green Hydrogen Nexus for more information.
Fossil Fuel Companies
Halt expansion and development of new oil and gas fields and coal-fired power stations. In 2021, the International Energy Agency stated clearly that no new expansion of fossil fuels or construction of coal-fired power stations can take place if the world is to stay on target for net-zero emissions by 2050. To ensure a regenerative future and uphold Indigenous land rights, companies must stop extracting oil, gas, and coal, and prevent the building of any further infrastructure such as pipelines, terminals, and power plants that drive this new extraction.
Invest in renewable energy. As of 2020, the oil and gas industry as a whole spent 1 percent of its capital expenditures on clean energy. Although several companies have made promises to make big changes, few are actually transforming their underlying business model. Renewable-energy companies are going to be at the heart of an entirely electrified economy, and energy companies that currently rely on fossil fuels only stand to benefit from that transition.
Retrofit gas stations to become electric vehicle charging stations. An increase in all electric vehicles will need a corresponding increase in charging stations, not just at residences but also along highways for longer trips. Gas stations along these highways should be retrofitted to make room for the increasing adoption of EVs.
Disclose and stop finance for fossil-fuel projects. If your investment portfolio currently consists of fossil-fuel extraction and expansion, halt any further investment in such projects and publicly commit to a transition to regenerative work. Consider allocating the resources necessary to offset historical damages. See Banking & Finance Nexus for more information.
Stop fossil-fuel subsidies. G20 governments have provided more than $3.3 trillion in subsidies for fossil fuels since the Paris climate agreement has been signed. Such investments are inconsistent with a regenerative future. By eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies, governments can reduce CO2 emissions by 5.5 billion tons by 2030. The same funding can then be channeled toward electrification, including redesigning grids, retrofitting buildings, electrifying transport, and supporting research for battery storage and green hydrogen.
Support education and reskilling programs for electrification. Electrifying everything is expected to create millions of jobs in the next decade. To meet the need for building retrofits, redesigning the energy grid, building clean energy infrastructure, and electrifying transport, millions of workers will need to be trained. The nearly 1.7 million workers that are already employed in fossil-fuel industries will need support reskilling to other infrastructure and management work in renewables and electrification. Governments can support the scale of mobilization required by providing the incentives, programs, and training institutes required for workers.
Provide equitable financial tools for the transition. In the process of electrifying everything, we will be creating a networked grid infrastructure where each personal device will not only take energy from the grid but also give energy back. The collective batteries connected to the grid are what allow operators to smooth out imbalances between energy demand supply. To incentivize everyone to participate in this collective infrastructure, governments should consider providing a low-interest loan guarantee to electrify homes and vehicles. Other financing methods such as public bonds and public-private financing will also be key elements of a decarbonization plan.
Support research on green hydrogen to electrify energy-intensive industries. Hydrogen that is produced with renewable energy, also known as green hydrogen, is considered a promising alternative to fossil fuels in hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation, shipping, and energy-intensive industries such as steel and chemical production. At the moment, very little hydrogen is green because the process, which uses electrolysis to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen, requires large amounts of renewable energy, which is still not widely available. Policies that channel resources to research and development in the area will go a long way to make green hydrogen viable and competitive. See Green Hydrogen Nexus for more information.
- The Orkney Islands (UK) convert all their excess renewable energy into green hydrogen, which is used on the island for heating school buildings, powering research facilities, electrifying ships docked at the harbor, and powering electric vehicles in the town.
- Swedish company Hybrit has manufactured the first batch of steel with green hydrogen instead of coal.
Mandate electrification adoption rates across industry. Every time a fossil-fuel device, like a car or a stove, is retired, there is an opportunity for it to be replaced with an electric one. These adoption rates are well below 100 percent. Governments play an essential role in enabling the adoption of electric devices. Through policy, fossil-fuel-powered buildings and vehicles can be outlawed. Incentive schemes such as buy-back programs can allow individuals to swap out combustion machines for electric ones as soon as possible.
Research from the UK think tank Influence Map identifies fifty companies that are most influential in shaping climate and energy policy across the world; thirty-five of them actively lobby against climate policy. These include companies across industries such as oil and gas, heavy energy, and electric utilities with large amounts of coal-generation capacity.
- Southern Company lobbies against climate policy such as electrification, although its top-line messaging has shifted positively since 2019. Thomas A. Fanning is the CEO. His LinkedIn profile is here.
- ExxonMobil strongly supports the long-term use of oil and gas in the energy mix, and retains memberships in industry associations that actively oppose climate policy globally. Darren Woods is the CEO. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Chevron opposes climate regulation, particularly renewable-fuel standards, and actively pushes for policies that promote oil and gas production. It also retains memberships in industry associations engaged in obstructive climate lobbying. Michael Wirth is the CEO. His email is email@example.com.
- Valero Energy has made limited statements about positive climate positions but has repeatedly lobbied against policies that reduce emissions, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard. Joseph W. Gorder is the CEO. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- BASF advocates for market-based solutions to climate change and supports carbon-neutral growth until 2030. Several executives hold leadership positions in trade associations that do not support climate change policies. Martin Brudermüller is the CEO and his LinkedIn profile is here.
- ArcelorMittal has mixed climate change lobbying positions especially in the European Union. Although they are supportive of long-term emissions reductions, they have consistently lobbied against reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System. Lakshmi Mittal is the CEO. His email is email@example.com.
- BP appears to have gone through a shift in climate communications since 2015. However, since 2016 they have spent millions in lobbying for the rollback of methane emissions requirements and carbon pricing regulations. Bernard Looney is the CEO. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. His LinkedIn profile is here.
Organizations Advocating for and Implementing Electrification
Rewiring America (U.S.): Building a movement to electrify everything, starting with households.
The Solutions Project (U.S.): Championing 100 percent renewable energy by working with local communities.
Building Decarbonization Coalition (California, U.S.): Uniting building industry stakeholders to power California’s homes and buildings with clean energy.
Rocky Mountain Institute (global): Transforming the global energy system to secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all.
Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (global): A collaboration among cities to achieve carbon neutrality in the next ten to twenty years.
Electrifying Economies (global): Unlocking affordable, reliable power through distributed energy.
Renewable Energy and Utility Providers
Green Mountain Energy (U.S.)
Swell Energy (U.S.)
LF Energy (U.S.)
Yellow Tin (California, United States)
NextEra Energy (U.S.)
Brookfield Renewable Partners (Canada)
The Asian Renewable Energy Hub (Australia)
How to Decarbonize the Grid and Electrify Everything with John Doerr and Hal Harvey
Share this page