Optimism in Light of Paris Climate Withdrawal
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Imagine if Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had listened to the naysayers. Instead, those superheroes of racial justice engaged the insurmountable power of the people to throw off the chains of slavery and racial discrimination, overcoming enormous colonial wealth and power arrayed against their cause.
After 200 years of wealth creation in the trillions of dollars, today another juggernaut of wealth and power is trying to thwart environmental justice and the inevitable transition to renewable energy: the fossil fuel industry. But now that solar and wind power have overtaken the annual electricity output of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. for the first time in history, renewable energy is poised to achieve a similar victory over a seemingly invincible legacy of oil, gas and coal.
While fossil fuels have enabled the most profound progress in the history of humankind over the past two centuries, it is scientifically incontrovertible that 7 billion people burning stuff in a closed atmosphere is environmentally unsustainable and socially unjust.
Positive Signs Despite Pushback
Despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, there are signs of extraordinary clean energy progress happening locally, regionally and globally that should embolden and energize the vast majority of citizens who want to protect their inalienable rights to clean air, water and land.
Just last week, Amazon announced it is investing in 100,000 electric delivery trucks by 2030 as part of a long-term plan to eliminate the company’s large carbon footprint. Apple’s domestic operations are powered by 100% renewable energy through a combination of on-site solar and off-site wind and solar farms. Perhaps surprising to many, the U.S. Dept. of Defense is the largest acquirer of renewable energy in America, having publicly announced that human-caused climate damage is our #1 security threat.
Another great example of large-scale clean energy progress recently came from Norwegian Cruise Lines upon its launch of the world’s first hybrid electric cruise ship, the Roald Amundsen, pictured below.
From the national We Are Still In coalition to local city and community pledges of 100% clean energy by 2050, the resounding chorus across America is that renewable energy is here to stay and fossil fuels are on their way out.
Recent clean energy developments in Maine underscore this reality, as the state launches an ambitious goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps to replace dirty oil and propane boilers. New state incentives for wind and solar power will soon help Maine break free of its over-reliance on fossil fuels, which have made it the state with the highest per capital carbon pollution in New England for decades.
ReVision Energy co-founder Phil Coupe and sidekick Chico are all smiles next to this oil tanker in Portland Harbor recently because in-bound tanker traffic has dropped by nearly 100% over the past 10 years. This helps to greatly reduce the threat of a future spill like when the tanker Julie N crashed into a bridge abutment in September 1996, spilling nearly 180,000 gallons of heating oil into the pristine harbor.