PGE’s Senior Director of Sustainability Strategy & Resource Planning, Kristen Sheeran, brought Oregon’s vision of an equitable clean energy future to New York Climate Week 2023. Throughout the week and across the city, experts and advocates came together to advance climate action and collaborate on some of the country’s biggest challenges, including how to ensure no one is left behind as we decarbonize the nation.
“To bring people into the clean energy transition, we have to find ways to make the work that we do more understandable and more accessible, so that our communities can engage with us in that process,” Sheeran shared during an expert panel on climate justice at an event for signatories of the Climate Pledge, a clean energy commitment founded by Amazon and Global Optimism.
PGE became the first North American utility company to join the Climate Pledge in April 2021, agreeing to meet the goals of the UN Paris Agreement 10 years early and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. This year’s annual summit attracted representatives from a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, renewable energy, logistics and more. All came together on September 21 to share both obstacles and best practices for achieving a rapid and just clean energy transition.
Sheeran participated in a panel discussion on climate justice alongside Jonah Smith, Vice President of ESG Strategy & Programs at IBM and Gloria Walton, President & CEO of the Solutions Project. The three leaders explored how to balance an accelerated transition with affordability, the importance of turning to communities for their grassroots expertise, and the urgency of climate action.
“Our investors, our c-suite, our customers, everybody’s bought in. Now we actually have to get it done, and there isn’t a lot of time left!” Kristen remarked, articulating the key challenges ahead of us. “Can it be done? Absolutely. We know we can do this from an engineering perspective, but it’s going to require all of us rowing in the same direction — our customers, our stakeholders, our local governments, everybody — and that’s where things get difficult.”
Senior Director of Sustainability Strategy & Resource Planning Kristen Sheeran (center) described how PGE uses an equity lens in our clean energy planning. She was joined by Gloria Walton (right) from the Solutions Project, Jonah Smith (left of Sheeran) from IBM, and moderator Susan Beverly (far left).
The climate justice panel attracted a variety of participants, and many attendees left the session inspired to take action to engage communities in their clean energy planning.
“We have to move fast, and at the same time we know we won’t be successful unless we deliberately and meaningfully engage our communities in the planning process,” Sheeran said.
With more than 450 signatories of the Climate Pledge nationwide, PGE was especially proud to be one of several featured organizations from a large contingent of Pacific Northwest leaders, including Alaska Airlines, MiiR, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and Climate Pledge host Amazon.
Other keynote speakers at the summit included former Secretary of State John Kerry, now the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, as well as Governor Inslee. Both figures emphasized the necessary urgency of climate action, as well as the need to bring solutions to scale. “Almost everything we are doing has to be faster and bigger,” Secretary Kerry said.
"I think it is a great time to be alive to be able to say that you can do something profoundly important for generations to come," said Washington Governor Jay Inslee
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry spoke about the collective power of companies committed to climate action.