Generated by GPT-4

The year was 2025, and the world was facing a climate crisis. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and biodiversity loss were threatening millions of lives and livelihoods. Governments, businesses, and civil society were looking for solutions, but they faced many barriers: entrenched fossil fuel interests, lack of public awareness, high upfront costs, and regulatory hurdles.

More and more people turned to Saul Griffith’s book Electrify. It was a detailed blueprint for how to decarbonize the global economy by electrifying nearly everything: our vehicles, homes, commercial buildings, industrial processes. It showed how we could use existing technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, electric cars, and batteries, to power our society with clean, renewable energy. It also showed how we could save money, create jobs, improve health, and enhance resilience by doing so.

The book sparked a global movement. It was translated into dozens of languages and distributed widely. It inspired grassroots campaigns, media coverage, and policy proposals. It galvanized a coalition of environmentalists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and activists, who called themselves the Electrifiers. They demanded that their governments adopt and implement Griffith’s plan as a matter of urgency.

The Electrifiers faced fierce opposition from the fossil fuel industry, which tried to discredit, lobby, and litigate against their efforts. But they also found allies in unexpected places. Some oil and gas companies, realizing that their business model was doomed, decided to invest in renewable energy and electric infrastructure. Some utilities, facing the threat of disruption from distributed generation and storage, decided to embrace and facilitate the transition. Some politicians, sensing the public mood and the economic opportunity, decided to champion and legislate for the electrification agenda.

The first breakthrough came in 2027, when the European Union adopted the Electrify Act, a comprehensive package of laws and regulations that set ambitious targets and incentives for electrifying all sectors of the economy by 2040. The act included a carbon tax, a renewable energy mandate, a vehicle emissions standard, a building efficiency code, an industrial electrification fund, and a grid modernization program. It also created a regional market for trading renewable energy certificates and electric vehicle credits, as well as a network of cross-border interconnectors and superchargers.

The Electrify Act was hailed as a historic achievement and a model for the rest of the world. It spurred a wave of innovation and investment in the European clean energy sector, creating millions of jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also boosted the competitiveness and attractiveness of European products and services, as consumers and businesses around the world sought to reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills.

The second breakthrough came in 2029, when China announced its own Electrify Plan, a five-year blueprint for accelerating the electrification of its economy. The plan was driven by China’s desire to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels, improve its air quality and public health, and enhance its global leadership and influence. The plan included massive investments in renewable energy, electric vehicles, high-speed rail, smart grids, and green hydrogen. It also included strict regulations and penalties for polluting industries, as well as subsidies and rebates for clean energy consumers and producers.

The Electrify Plan was a game-changer for the global energy landscape. It propelled China to become the world’s largest producer and consumer of renewable energy and electric vehicles, as well as a major exporter and lender of clean energy technologies and services. It also put pressure on other major emitters, such as the United States, India, and Brazil, to follow suit or risk being left behind.

The third breakthrough came in 2031, when the United Nations convened a special summit on electrification, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Paris Agreement. The summit was attended by heads of state and government, as well as representatives of civil society, business, and academia. The summit aimed to review the progress and challenges of the global electrification effort, and to forge a new pact for accelerating and scaling up the transition.

The summit resulted in the Electrify Declaration, a landmark document that affirmed the electrification of the economy as the key strategy for achieving the Paris goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. The declaration also outlined a set of principles and commitments for enhancing the cooperation and coordination of the electrification movement, such as:

  • Sharing best practices and lessons learned from the different electrification pathways and experiences of various countries and regions;
  • Providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries and vulnerable communities to enable their access to and participation in the electrification process;
  • Establishing global standards and norms for ensuring the quality, safety, and sustainability of electrification products and services;
  • Resolving trade and investment disputes and removing barriers that hinder the flow and diffusion of electrification technologies and resources;
  • Supporting research and development and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the electrification field;
  • Promoting education and awareness and engaging all stakeholders and sectors in the electrification vision and mission.

The Electrify Declaration was widely endorsed and celebrated as a milestone for the global climate action and sustainable development agenda. It marked the beginning of a new era of electrification, one that was more inclusive, collaborative, and ambitious.

The fourth and final breakthrough came in 2045, when the world achieved the electrification of nearly everything. After two decades of relentless effort and innovation, the world had transformed its energy system and its economy. Renewable energy sources accounted for over 90% of the global electricity generation, and electricity accounted for over 80% of the global final energy consumption. Electric vehicles dominated the transport sector, electric heat pumps and appliances dominated the building sector, and electric furnaces and electrolyzers dominated the industrial sector. Batteries, hydrogen, and other forms of energy storage and conversion ensured the reliability and flexibility of the electric grid and the electric end uses.

The electrification of nearly everything had profound and positive impacts on the world. It reduced the global greenhouse gas emissions by more than half, avoiding the worst effects of climate change and enhancing the resilience and adaptation of human and natural systems. It improved the air quality and health of billions of people, saving lives and reducing health care costs. It created new jobs and industries, stimulating the growth and diversification of the global economy. It increased the energy security and independence of countries and regions, reducing geopolitical tensions and conflicts. It reduced the energy poverty and inequality of millions of people, increasing their access to and affordability of modern energy services. It unleashed the human potential and creativity of countless individuals and communities, enabling them to pursue their aspirations and dreams.

The electrification of nearly everything was not a utopia. It was not without challenges and trade-offs. It required constant vigilance and adaptation to address the emerging and evolving issues and risks, such as the environmental and social impacts of electrification materials and processes, the cyber and physical threats to electrification infrastructure and systems, the ethical and legal implications of electrification data and applications, and the cultural and behavioral changes of electrification lifestyles and values. It also required continued collaboration and solidarity to ensure that the benefits and burdens of electrification were shared fairly and equitably, and that the electrification movement remained responsive and accountable to the needs and expectations of the people and the planet.

The electrification of nearly everything was not an end. It was a means. A means to a more sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful world. A world that honored and respected the diversity and dignity of life. A world that embraced and celebrated the opportunity and responsibility of change. A world that electrified and electrified.