Three decades later, renewable is doable

Commitments to power society with clean energy are accelerating us from 0 to 100 quickly.

Commitments to power society with clean energy are accelerating us from 0 to 100 quickly

I’ve been campaigning to move America to clean energy for many years. When I started three decades ago, renewable energy wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen. There were no commercially produced hybrid cars — let alone plug-in electrics. The debates about energy efficiency revolved around whether to do it rather than how much needed to be done. Back then, people would have laughed at the idea that America could meet its energy needs with 100 percent renewable energy. But, thankfully, we and others persisted.

Fast forward to 2019.

  • Thousands of electric cars are coming off almost every manufacturer’s assembly line.

  • Energy efficiency is lauded as a sensible business practice and talk of zero-net-energy buildings has become commonplace.

Today, more businesses, schools, cities, counties and states than ever before have plans to meet their energy needs entirely with clean energy in the not-too-distant future. California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and most recently, Washington state, have all set timelines for when they’ll be powered 100% by clean energy sources.

This progress has arrived not a moment too soon. It’s never been clearer that we need rapid transformation in how we use and produce energy. Decades of dirty energy practices have polluted our air, water and land, changing our climate even faster than we thought. Across the country, we’re facing extreme weather, dirty air and water, and other challenges caused by a polluted planet — challenges that will only get more severe in the coming years.

It’s no wonder there’s widespread support behind the idea of fueling our society with abundant, pollution-free and renewable energy sources that have no fuel costs. What’s not to like about that?

The progress we’ve seen so far didn’t happen by accident. In the decades that I’ve been doing this work, many of us have pushed for strong policies to ramp up renewable energy usage, create cleaner cars and build more efficient buildings and appliances. Now, due to growing recognition of the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy, many companies, governments and institutions are leaning into 100 percent renewable energy targets and have concrete plans for achieving them.

We can’t change the past. But we can take stock of where we are today and forge ahead, guided by the reality of where we need to be in the future and what it will take to get there..

After years of slogging through the policy muck, I’m finally seeing the kind of progress that gives me confidence we can take clean energy to the next level. Let’s aim high. Please join us. The future of the planet is at stake.