By: Mark Dunlea, Steering Committee Member, 350 NYC.
We are joining the July 24th March for a Clean Energy revolution to highlight the need to move to 100% clean renewable energy – no fossil fuels, natural gas, or nukes – as soon as possible. This will require a mobilization comparable to what the U.S. did after Pearl Harbor.
We should bring signs highlighting that the path to renewable energy is also the path to full employment. 100% clean energy could create 20 million new, good paying jobs. It would also lower electric rates by 50% compared to continued reliance on fossil fuels. And it will be much healthier, eliminating the tens of thousands of annual deaths due to air pollution for fossil fuels.
Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University and others have done studies showing that it is feasible with existing technology – wind, water, solar, conservation – to move to 100% clean energy by 2030. Since his initial report he has begun to cite a deadline of 2050 in order to give politicians and other power brokers more time. It is not clear, however, that adding on 20 years will ensure that we avoid catastrophic climate change. In Paris, the developing countries said that the existing goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade would be devastating for many of them. They won an agreement from the industrial countries like the US to lower the warming target to 1.5 degrees – which means an annual reduction in greenhouse gas of 7 to 9% a year.
We should build as many windmills as possible. The slow development of offshore wind remains one of the major obstacles to a 100% clean energy future. The University of Delaware recently reported that the US has moved backward on offshore wind (OSW) over the last decade due to politicians’ over-reliance on market forces to develop OSW. What is needed is for states to commit to long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to buy electricity from OSW. This will attract the needed investment.
In Germany, local communities are leading the drive to renewables. Cities and other municipalities should adopt their own plans to go to 100% clean energy. We can require all public buildings to install solar, heat pumps or conservation measures. New buildings should be required to have no carbon emissions and existing buildings need to undergo energy retrofits. We need to expand support for mass transit as well. And we need to localize our agriculture system to promote organics and be regenerative.
We need to help continue to develop new technologies including harnessing tidal power. In Portland they are putting small water turbines into their gravity operated water system not only to produce electricity but also to improve monitoring.
We need to reduce our energy consumption as much as possible. Energy uses that cannot be eliminated need to be electrified.
We can no longer be satisfied when elected officials admit that humans are causing climate change and that we need to invest in renewables. Every reasonable person already knows that. We need to ensure that real timelines are set with strong enforceable emission reduction targets.
But we must also be focused on a Just Transition. The poor and communities of color are most impacted by climate change. We need a Just Transition to ensure their needs are met. We need to ensure that existing fossil fuel workers are protected during the transition. We should also embrace energy democracy, insisting on an energy system that is democratically controlled and treats energy as a public common good.