Amy Harder Featured in Newsletter

“It can feel hard to have hope when the challenges are immense — and they are immense, to be clear! — but looking back at the progress we’ve made and knowing that progress often accelerates (especially with technology adoption) gives me hope.”
~Amy Harder, Founding Executive Editor of Cipher

Amy is founding executive editor of Cipher News, a publication covering global climate solutions supported by Breakthrough Energy.

Amy is regularly sought out to speak at high-profile conferences around the world. She has also appeared on many media outlets, including PBS’ NewsHour and NPR. Before launching Cipher in 2021, Amy has covered similar topics at AxiosThe Wall Street Journal and National Journal, over the past roughly15 years.

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What is a very simple explanation of what you do? 

I lead a small and mighty team of journalists writing about the solutions we need to fight climate change, clean up the planet and create new jobs. 

How did Cipher come into being?

Our supporter, Breakthrough Energy, wanted to establish a journalism outlet to help explain the vast array of new climate solutions, particularly new technologies, that are beginning to proliferate in our society. With that North Star, we launched Cipher — which means zero (as in zero emissions!) — in September 2021. 

Although we’re focused on different areas, we consider Kaiser Health News (KHN), which is now KFF News, a model to follow. KHN was founded by the Kaiser Family Foundation (now KFF) to support explanatory journalism in healthcare. That’s what we’re doing with climate solutions. 

What do many people get wrong about carbon capture?

Confusion persists over what ‘carbon capture’ actually means. Is it just point-source carbon capture? Is it nature-based solutions and engineered direct air capture? I tend to initially group them all under the general line carbon capture — because, in fact, that’s what’s happening in all scenarios — and then I specify the differences. This can get confusing! 

Do you have any predictions for the future of carbon capture?

This isn’t so much a prediction, but more a question I will be watching. As a journalist, I try not to get into the prediction business. I will be watching to what extent carbon capture — any of the types I listed above — will eventually see price decreases similar to wind and solar. In some ways, carbon capture tech is more bespoke and thus may face more cost challenges than mass-manufactured wind and solar. At the same time, this tech is so important to addressing climate change, which is why so much attention — and money — is being directed this way.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love that I get to wear multiple hats that all empower me to learn while also feeling fulfilled with meaning. 

One day, I’m working with a journalist on our team with a story, editing it, suggesting new angles and ways to make it even stronger, while also learning from the reporting itself. 

Photo by Daniel Bayer

Another day, I’ll be out in the field reporting a story for, perhaps, our partnership with the Associated Press

Yet another day, I’m helping host a conference or moderate a panel interviewing leaders on climate tech and more. 

I get to see from multiple angles the unique role journalism can fill in our quest to address climate change. 

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