Here & Real is an ESI project dedicated to direct engagement with U.S. regions as they tackle conversations around climate change and an emerging low-carbon economy. Partnering with local and state leadership, we combine world-class research with local values and economic realities in order to support decision-makers and residents as they plan—and help create—a more resilient future.
Here & Real’s approach is to listen thoughtfully to real and perceived roadblocks to taking local action on climate change; respect communities’ deep-seated values; and pursue shared, science-based goals across political lines.
In Greene County, PA, coal mining companies hold a significant presence and are major contributors to the local tax base. As a part of ESI’s Here & Real project, MIT students have spent time in the region analyzing the hydrocarbon industry’s local tax contributions and conducting scenarios to model how the changing energy market have been impacting the county—and what’s in store in a future low-carbon economy. In partnership with a local community organization, these findings have been embedded into summer workshops, county fairs and mailings to help residents more clearly understand their economic prospects and create a future consistent with both their values and the realities of climate change. Our engagement in Greene County provides a template for how local leaders and decision-makers in other regions can strengthen their understanding of their economic future, so that they can work now to prioritize stability for workers and residents.
The State of Wyoming supplies 40 percent of the coal used to power U.S. electric grids. The production of coal and other energy resources contributes over half of the state’s revenue, funding the government and many of the social services—including K-12 education—that residents rely on. With the consumption of coal in a long-term decline, decreased revenues from oil and natural gas, and growing concerns about carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the state is actively looking at how to adapt to a changing marketplace.
ESI is leading a conversation between representatives from the Wyoming Governor’s Office, University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, and Wyoming Energy Authority and faculty and researchers from MIT to explore avenues for the state to strengthen its energy economy while lowering CO2 emissions.