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Understanding the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report: A look at Iowa’s changing future

By Kristen Weaverling, Energy Communications Coordinator

Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered unsettling news in their sixth assessment report  our planet has suffered indisputable, irreparable damage to our climate and human activities are undeniably at fault. While this message might not come as a surprise to some, it’s still a hard pill to swallow.  

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the report itself. Perhaps the most notable shift from past reports is reflected in its language, where for the first time the scientific community confidently attributed our changing climate to human activity. "It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land,” the 2021 IPCC report states outright. 

David Courard-Hauri, Chair of Environmental Science at Drake University and co-author of the 2020 Iowa Climate Statement has long studied climate science. He notes that early reports were reluctant to link human influence to climate change, but those views have evolved. “We now know—we don’t think, we know—that humans are causing the climate to change in ways that have been predicted for a very long time,” Courard-Hauri tells us. 

While significant, this departure from more hesitant terminology simply confirms what most climate-conscious individuals already expected and feared. But what does this news mean for us here in the Heartland?

Energy News 

Franchise negotiations present opportunity for improvement 

Iowa law grants energy providers a guaranteed market in exchange for regulatory oversight. With this arrangement, Iowa's customers lack choice. These defined service territories result in franchise agreements between local municipalities and their respective utility. These contracts offer local governments the option to negotiate terms with their provider, for better or for worse. 

Joleen Jansen is an Elkader resident and serves as the Clayton County Energy District director. She shares an update on the Elkader franchise agreement which is currently in flux. "Long-term no-out contracts are limiting, not future-ready, and relinquish power to a company that already has a monopoly," Jansen writes in regard to the proposed changes. Learn more in her latest IEC guest blog.

Cities help drive clean energy procurement 

In January of this year, Des Moines made headlines after adopting an ambitious 24/7 carbon-free energy goal by 2035. For a refresher on the commitment and the campaign, read our overview here

These goals are gaining popularity, and are being pursued by cities and companies alike. This trend is driving a shift in procurement strategies, which is reflected in a new report from the World Resources Institute. Des Moines Councilmember Josh Mandelbaum spoke about the city's goal and MidAmerican Energy's role in a recent story about clean energy procurement

“We’re going to be pushing them to retire their coal [and] build more renewable assets on the grid in Iowa,” Mandelbaum said. “There’s an inherent tension there. They want to be doing it on their timeline.”

Clean energy and climate win with Iowa Gives Green

August 4 was the first-ever Iowa Gives Green: A Day of Giving to Protect Iowa’s Environment. A coalition representing 17 environmental organizations across Iowa participated in the inaugural event. 

Jordan Bles, IEC's Director of Fundraising and Development spearheaded the event and shared his reflections on the day in a recent blog post. "It is just the kind of coalition work that came together, putting our money where our mouth is to make an impact, that gives me hope for the work ahead," Bles writes.

The fundraiser drove more than $25,000 in giving from more than 200 donors. IEC hopes to replicate this success in next year's event which will be held on August 3, 2022. 


Coal Plants: The Price Iowans Pay, Webinar #2

Last week, IEC hosted the second event in our three-part webinar series looking at excess coal generation here in Iowa. The second webinar focused on exploring the health consequences of excess coal generation here in Iowa in addition to the negative impact on crop yields for farmers. View a recording on our YouTube channel of IEC's event, Coal Plants: The Price Iowans Pay, Webinar #2.

Upcoming Energy Events and Activities

We invite you to join us for the Iowa Climate Resiliency Forum, featuring Representative Cindy Axne, next Wednesday, September 1 at 9:00 a.m.

This free, virtual discussion will bring focus to needed federal infrastructure investments in climate resiliency and clean energy. Whether it be responding to extreme weather events with community investments or strengthening our commitment to clean power, local solutions are needed. 

The interactive program will open with remarks from Representative Axne, followed by a panel discussion with local advocates that represent a variety of industries and perspectives in our state. We want your questions, input, and participation! 


Join IEC on Wednesday, October 13 at 11:30 AM for the third and final event in our webinar series looking at the impacts of excess coal generation here in Iowa.

All the Iowa coal generation in 2020 was excess generation and not needed. Iowans are paying with their lives, health, and safety and farmers are paying a significant corn production penalty from unnecessary coal plant pollution. Coal plant emissions are increasingly being recognized as significantly impacting our health, and are silent killers.

This free event is virtual. Can't make it for the live event? A recording will be made available to view at your convenience. Visit the registration page to sign-up today.


IEC is hiring! 

It's been a busy summer here at IEC, and we are adding to our team! We have several part-time openings for our 100% Iowa project and our IEC administrative team. If you or someone you know values our mission and work,  visit our website to see the openings and learn how to apply.
Questions about any of the openings? Contact us at iecmail@iaenvironment.org. And thank you for your continued support that makes our work possible!

Upcoming Energy Events

8/25 - Solar Power Hour, Grow Solar Jackson County & Maquoketa Sentinel-Press & Sycamore Media

8/26 - Muscatine's Clean Energy Future-Public Forum, Clean Air Muscatine / CLAM

8/27 - Act for Creation. Act for Justice, Interfaith Power & Light

9/1 - Here Comes the Sun: Solar Friendly Ordinances for Communities

9/1 - IEC's Iowa Climate Resiliency Forum

9/20 - 9/25 - Iowa City Climate Fest, City of Iowa City

9/25 - 10/3 - National Drive Electric Week

Have an upcoming event we don't have listed here? Send it to us at iecmail@iaenvironment.org

505 Fifth Ave. Suite 850 
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317

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