As you think back over all that’s happened in climate and environmental news in 2019, you’d be forgiven for throwing up your hands in despair. The Trump Administration has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords, turned the EPA over to coal industry lobbyists who are torching environmental regulations, and the continuing gridlock out of Congress shows no evidence of relief on the horizon.
And this shameful dereliction of care is happening at the same time as massive wildfires, devastating floods, intense hurricanes, and disappearing glaciers. The last time atmospheric carbon levels were this high, sea levels were between 30-60 feet higher. Sleep tight.
But here’s a stat that will give you hope: one in every four people in this country live in a state where carbon-based electricity must be phased out, by law, largely to be replaced by renewables. Six states, plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, have established 100% clean electricity requirements, with four of those passing in 2019.
It’s an incredible achievement and I would argue the most important climate success this country has ever seen.
- Why is this happening now? We’re at a nexus of three powerful trends. A trifecta of compelling economics, great politics, and winnable venues.
- Solar and wind are now, in many places, the cheapest sources of energy generation. Battery storage, a key part of maintaining reliability, has come down in price by 71% over the past 10 years, and will continue to fall. With current costs, at least half of the existing coal generation in the U.S. is uneconomic. We’re working hard to make sure that coal is replaced by clean energy.
- Vote Solar works at the state level, because that’s where most decisions about electricity are made. Making change in Congress is brutal, but state governments are much closer to democracy. Vote Solar’s team is now 33 people strong, working in front of Public Utility Commissions and state legislatures in 26 states to deliver these substantial wins.
Going forward, we’re working to make sure that our energy system is not only clean, but also more just and equitable. As we look to remake America’s energy system from one based on polluting fossil fuels to one based on clean energy, we have an opportunity to make sure that it serves everybody. As we advocate for change, everyone must see themselves, and how they benefit, in the future we hope to build. The more problems we solve, the more partners we have. The more robust our vision, the bigger the inspiration. We’re proud to have been a driving force behind the country’s largest low-income solar program to date in Florida, and we’re looking to do better in 2020.
“Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”
Alasdair Gray, who passed in 2019, wrote these words, and we find them to be a good north star. We’re glad you are on this journey with us.