Erica at Leaders Summit on Climate

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April 28, 2021
Erica Mackie, on a big screen, with President Job Biden, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, and other dignitaries, sitting around a round table.

On Friday, April 23rd, Erica Mackie, GRID CEO attended President Biden's Leaders Summit on Climate. Erica joined world, national, and community leaders to discuss the economic opportunities of climate action. This Summit is an example of the critical need for GRID's policy work. We bring our experience directly to lawmakers and policy decision-makers to move the needle on equitable clean energy access for economic and environmental justice communities. The work we do is not possible without each and every one of you. Read the transcript below, watch in English here, en español aquí, or in other available languages here.

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National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy: "Erica - I had the privilege of attending two GRID Alternatives solar installations. In fact, you had me on the roof on both of those occasions. And I talked to job trainees learning solar skills while they were installing solar in low-income communities and communities of color in Los Angeles and Washington DC. So how does GRID Alternatives’ work illustrate how clean energy can be beneficial for all individuals and families in every community?"

Erica Mackie: "Thank you, National Climate Advisor McCarthy. You were awesome on a rooftop. President Biden, Secretary Kerry, dignitaries, thank you for having me. GRID Alternatives’ mission is to build community-powered solutions to advance economic and environmental justice through renewable energy. For the past twenty years, GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest nonprofit solar installer, has been working with communities most impacted by economic and climate injustices to bring the benefits of clean energy and jobs to all families and individuals. 

"We will not achieve a renewable energy future without addressing the systemic injustices that have disproportionately impacted people of color. The benefits of renewable energy - clean air, long-lasting careers, and lower energy bills - must not be limited to the privileged. Yet low-income communities and communities of color are usually left out of conversations about our clean energy future. And I applaud the Administration for the Environmental Justice Council. GRID Alternatives works coast-to-coast to push for policies that make solar energy and cutting edge clean technologies available to everyone. By creating strong policy solutions that center the leadership of economic and environmental justice communities - we can ensure everyone benefits, now and for generations to come. 

"Clean energy can be transformative for the people, the planet, and the economy. A growing solar energy industry needs skilled workers at all levels. Solar jobs are meaningful and pay well. With GRID Alternatives’ hands-on training, individuals learn solar skills while participating in real-world solar installations. We make training opportunities accessible to groups that are traditionally underrepresented in solar - including women, people of color and those impacted by the criminal justice system. Our graduates jumpstart lifelong careers, connecting with employers or starting their own successful business ventures.

"Clean energy, together with energy storage, electrification, and other technologies, is necessary for both climate mitigation and climate adaptation. While replacing polluting energy sources, clean energy investments also benefit health. Clean energy also makes us more resilient to the increasingly common disasters brought on by the climate crisis. Families depend on electricity for medical equipment and food; when the power goes out, local solar and storage can save lives. Families harmed most by fossil fuel pollution and climate destruction also pay more of their incomes for the very energy system causing those harms, another source of economic instability. Those most impacted by fossil fuel pollution, climate-induced disasters, and burdensome energy costs must be first from climate solutions, they must benefit first, not as an afterthought. Energy agency and ownership must, and can be put in the hands of communities through the clean energy transition.

"We need to include everyone in climate solutions. We need climate justice. GRID Alternatives envisions a rapid, equitable transition to a world powered by renewable energy that benefits everyone. Our experience shows this critical opportunity is possible with collective effort."

President Biden: "Great job."

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy: "Erica, thank you very much. I know GRID Alternatives reminds us that clean energy is not a luxury for a few, it’s a necessity for all of us, and thank you for advancing that."