Today, Environment America celebrated people from across America in a project called Voices for 100% Renewable Energy. The project features stories from a wide array of individuals -- from community leaders, to business and nonprofit leaders, to academics, to mayors and other public officials – who believe we can and must quickly transition to powering ourselves with clean, renewable energy.
“Every day, I’m inspired by folks I see across the country working hard to transition our communities, our institutions, and the nation to clean, renewable energy,” said Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director with Environment America. “We’re hopeful that the people and stories featured in the Voices for 100% Renewable Energy project will motivate and embolden citizens to lean into a swift and steady shift from dirty to clean energy.”
Most people in the project focused on the urgent need to reduce the pollution that harms our health and the environment. But, many simply believe that it’s common sense and good economics to save energy and to harness unlimited, pollution-free energy sources. Among the people featured in the project were: Anya Schoolman from Solar United Neighbors; Denise Fairchild from the Emerald Cities Collaborative and author of Energy Democracy; Hawaii’s Governor, David Ige; Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, Florida; Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, sponsor of a bill to set a national target of 100 percent clean energy; former NBA and NCAA basketball star, Bill Walton; and Mustafa Santiago Ali from the Hop Hop Caucus.
The people highlighted in the project cite a range of environmental, economic, equity, social and health benefits from the transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
Here’s what they had to say:
“The Hawaiian Islands are vulnerable to climate change, and embracing renewable energy is one of our strongest tools to combat it,” said Hawaii’s Governor David Y. Ige. “We are blessed with abundant renewable energy resources — solar, wind, ocean, geothermal —that can be the foundation for a robust alternate energy industry. We can also reduce Hawaiʻi’s $6 billion a year dependence on imported oil and instead keep funds here while creating new jobs in the process. I’m proud that Hawaiʻi is the first, and still the only, state to have a 100 percent renewable energy goal for electricity. Hawaiʻi was also the first state to enact legislation aligned with the Paris agreement. We are moving forward with our commitments to meet, and even surpass, those targets of lower carbon emissions to combat global warming.”
“A decade ago, my 12-year-old son Walter came to me and said, ‘Mom, we have to go solar.’ He and his friend Diego had just seen ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and wanted to take action,” said Anya Schoolman, Executive Director of Solar United Neighbors. “At the time, going solar was complicated and expensive. We realized that if we were going to do this, and wanted to really make an impact, we might as well take the whole neighborhood solar. So that’s what we did. The boys canvassed up and down the neighborhood and we formed Washington, D.C.’s first solar co-op. That group helped 45 neighbors go solar. Since then, thousands of homeowners have gone solar through a co-op…We will get to 100% renewable energy because going solar gives people a stake in the energy system in a way that fossil fuel sources don’t. We have an opportunity to rebuild our energy system. Let’s not waste it.”
“To remain a global economic leader, we must invest in renewable energy technology and fully embrace a cleaner, carbon-free future,” said Congressman Jared Polis. “I am proud to lead federal legislation to move the nation toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. In my district, Colorado State University and its students are taking the lead, pledging to commit the university to being powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, and developing the technology to achieve that goal. By working together to combat climate change through renewable energy, we will protect our health, our national security, our jobs and our planet for the future.”
“A just transition to clean energy is a must for all of our communities and is achievable,” said Mustafa Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization with the Hip Hop Caucus. “After 25 years working with thousands of communities across our country who face environmental injustices, I can attest that a transition to clean energy is critical for our kids and a matter of life or death for many families. Our most vulnerable communities, including low-income and communities of color, cannot wait any longer...Instead of continuing to support the fossil fuel industry and policies that continue to put our communities at risk, our leaders need to take action and embrace the clean energy solutions that exist right now and create new economic opportunities for those who have often been forgotten. It makes sense for our leadership in the world, economy, health and moral duty to protect the planet for future generations.”
“I am proud to support a vision of transitioning entirely to 100 percent clean and renewable energy in our city,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Florida. “Cities are the front lines where this transformation can happen and by leading an effort like this, we can not only help to improve the health of our residents but also help preserve natural resources, ensure environmental protection, create new jobs in the growing clean energy industry, and drive even more economic growth to our region.”
Bill Walton, NBA basketball legend said, “I am proud to stand tall in support of the goal of the campaign for 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible — like right now. Renewable energy is the biggest no-brainer in the history of the world. Renewable energy is good economics, good public policy, good social responsibility, and good for you, me and everyone else. Over the course of my lifetime, I have heard far too many times, ‘that will never work’, or ‘we can’t do that’. Yet, every time we actually do do it, not only does it work, but it makes things better…”
“As a 40 year community development practitioner, living and working in South Los Angeles, I lived the jobs versus environment dichotomy,” said Denise Fairchild, President of Emerald Cities Collaborative. “Our struggles were for jobs, community investments, community ownership and wealth creation. Even our successful fight against Lancer, a municipal incinerator in the mid 1980s, missed defining the intersectional dimensions of our environmental justice work. But today, the 100 percent renewable campaign has the potential to confront — in an intentional way — the nexus of our environmental, economic and social justice struggles.”
“For years, we’ve been told that pollution from dirty fuels was the price we had to pay for progress,” said Anna Hofmann, clean energy associate with Environment America. “Those days are over. My confidence that we can make the shift to clean renewable energy has been boosted by the conversations I’ve had with the many people we’ve profiled in the Voices for 100% Renewable project.”
To view Voices for 100% Renewable Energy, go to www.100percentrenewable.org