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On Friday, September 17, Axios Climate & Energy reporter Andrew Freedman and Energy reporter Ben Geman hosted a virtual conversation on what building a fair economy with quality clean energy jobs could look like, featuring The Honorable Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and BlueGreen Alliance executive director Jason Walsh.

Sen. Alex Padilla explained how the infrastructure bill puts forth investments toward the environment, the urgency of acting on climate change at a legislative level, and how recent climate emergencies have underscored that urgency. 

  • In response to questions about climate investments in the infrastructure bill: “We need to act with urgency, we need to act boldly, that’s half the equation. It’s okay to have questions on what the price tag is, but of equal importance is knowing that we’re doing this in a fiscally responsible way.” 
  • On garnering necessary bipartisan support for the infrastructure bill to pass: “I do believe we’re going to get to yes at the end of the day, and that end of the day is going to be in the weeks ahead, not the months ahead, because of the urgency that I just laid out.” 

Jason Walsh highlighted the important intersection between climate action and clean energy jobs, the challenges of creating high-quality jobs in the power sector, and how budget reconciliation would help to meet clean energy job goals. 

  • On addressing crises relating to job creation, economic and racial inequality, and the climate emergency: “We have the ability with budget reconciliation to advance solutions to these crises that are as mutually reinforcing and intersecting as their causes. We feel like we can’t afford not to take advantage of this opportunity.”
  • On why budget reconciliation must address the lack of high-quality clean energy jobs: “Not enough of the clean energy jobs that have been created are high quality and union. They have not been created at scale in some of the communities and parts of the country that need them the most, and the lived experience of workers dislocated from incumbent industries, coal mining and power plants, doesn’t meet any reasonable standard of fairness and justice.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 16, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on sustainable investing

On Thursday, December 16th, Axios energy reporter Ben Geman and business reporter Hope King dove into the forces driving investments in climate tech and looked ahead to the ESG trends shaping the market for 2022, featuring Moody’s Climate Solutions global head Emilie Mazzacurati and S&P Global Sustainable1 president Richard Mattison.

Emilie Mazzacurati discussed the most tangible outcomes from the COP26 climate conference, how these outcomes will impact sustainable investment, and how to ensure corporate sustainability commitments are actually implemented.

  • On the impact of companies setting forth climate pledges: “Setting aside those technical aspects, we found that even the companies that have set targets are not going far enough and that if all those companies reduced emissions, they would be on track supportive of a world going towards 2.1 degrees Celsius on average. So still well above where we want to be.”
  • On transparency to prevent corporate greenwashing: “So the type of things that we might look at over and beyond the actual targets themselves are governance. Is there a board-level oversight of climate risk? What’s the role of the management? Is climate integrated into risk management?”

Richard Mattison described the state of the current climate investment environment, the makeup of upcoming standard disclosure requirements, and the best and worst case scenarios in measuring companies’ progress on their sustainability commitments.

  • On the need for more specificity in climate investment pledges: “I don’t think we really have enough understanding of what the near-term plans need to look like. We don’t even know what a good transition plan looks like…I think there’s a never before seen scale of collaboration, in particular between banks, asset managers, and companies on really what a good transition plan looks like towards net zero.”
  • On best case scenarios for progress on sustainability commitments: “There is robustness and credibility in the processes used to gather that information and interpret that information. And that process means that the information is actually at the core of a scale flow of capital towards sustainable outcomes, and that we are starting to see a real difference in the real world with respect to some of those climate disasters that I was talking about before.”

Axios HQ General Manager Jordan Zaslav hosted a View from the Top segment with Head of iShares Americas at Blackrock, Armando Senra, who spoke on the impact of ESG commitments on the investment landscape.

  • “When you think of ESG, environmental, social, and corporate governance, those factors have a real impact in asset pricing in capital allocations. And therefore, what is really important there is to understand that as you’re building your portfolio, this is not just about your values or your preferences. This is about the outcomes that you are expecting in your portfolio and how you have to account for the impact and the opportunities that these factors will have in your portfolio.”

Thank you iShares for sponsoring this event.

Visualizing the climate stakes of Build Back Better's downfall

Expand chart
Data: REPEAT Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A report from the Princeton-led REPEAT Project examines the scope of Democratic energy legislation in the Build Back Better Act that's on the brink of collapse.

By the numbers: The analysis projects the impact of the more than $300 billion in expanded tax incentives for deploying low-emissions tech, and other climate-related provisions that push the total even higher.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement on Sunday.

State of play: All four hostages were safely released after the day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

  • "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.
  • Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Driving the news: The Colleyville Police Department said in a statement nearly an hour after the synagogue's 10 a.m. CST Shabbat services began that officers arrived on the scene and "observed an emergency situation that warranted an evacuation of the surrounding areas."

  • The FBI's Dallas Field Office, including crisis negotiators, and Texas Department of Public Safety worked alongside local authorities as the situation unfolded, according to CPD.
  • Abbott tweeted around 9:30 p.m. CST, "Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe."

Matt DeSarno, the special agent in charge at the FBI's Dallas Field Office, said Saturday night that the suspect was focused on "one issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community."

  • According to Texas Department of Public Safety, the suspect said he wanted to see Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, who is serving an 86-year sentence nearby. Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 for assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees and nationals in Afghanistan.

"We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX," Siddiqui's attorney Marwa Elbially, said in a statement earlier on Saturday, per CNN. "We implore the hostage taker to immediately release all hostages and turn himself in."

  • "We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia's brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family," the statement continued.

What they're saying: "Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families," President Biden said in a statement.

  • "We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community," Biden added.
  • "There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country."

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.