President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Deal is having the opposite effect than expected. Hundreds of cities, states, and businesses are advancing with stronger than ever commitments to clean energy and a reduction in polluting emissions.
334 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses are negotiating with the UN to have their reduction goals accepted alongside contributions to the Paris Climate Deal by other nations. Why? It’s good for quality of life and the bottom line. Moreover, those that lag making the transition to a low carbon economy, will miss huge opportunities for job creation, innovation and competitiveness.
Besides clean air and water, and protection from the economic losses of climate change, there are other compelling reasons for the shift to a low carbon economy. Clean energy is cheaper than oil, gas, and coal, and continues its downward price curve. According to the Guardian, 400 businesses and nonprofits are adopting low carbon practices for a variety of reasons. Some, like Monsanto, state that innovation to carbon neutrality will help to protect farmers as well as their own business, providing resilience in the face of climate impacts from extreme weather and water unreliability.
24 breweries partnered with Ceres signed a Climate Declaration to encourage other breweries to take stronger actions against climate risks. They have discovered that creating, saving, and reusing energy (through solar), along with watching water consumption, is good for the bottom line as well as market competitiveness. These same efforts are also being adopted by wineries, such as Sokol Blosser Winery and Thump and Back Porch Coffee in Oregon. Sokol Blosser has reduced waste, installed solar, invested in carbon offsets, and planted native plants at the winery. The latter coffee houses have invested in high-efficiency burners to reduce energy use.
The big picture is getting bigger. The transition to 100% clean renewable energy is gaining momentum as 42 Cities in North America have already achieved or are setting goals to go 100% renewable by 2030 or later. Bend and Deschutes County could do the same and accumulate significant savings like other cities who have made similar moves.
Government plays its role too. Lawmakers who get stuck with promoting and investing in dirty, outdated energies could encourage substantial losses and missed opportunities in the US and Oregon. China and India are likely to reach Paris Climate Goals before the US and will be positioned to better benefit from this innovation. Both Tesla and Volvo are planning for factories in China to exclusively build cars without internal combustion engines. India is also planning on electric vehicles. Oregon — along with five countries and seven states, used the Paris Climate Deal to set lofty new emission goals: all new cars sold within this jurisdiction must be emission-free by 2050. These “reach” goals are necessary in order to meet the Greenhouse Gas emission reductions recommended by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. It will require participation in carbon reduction at all levels: from individual to business to government.
Although the Federal Government is likely to remain focused on dirty energies due to donor investments in both politicians and lobbyists, Oregon has the opportunity next year to advance the Clean Energy Jobs Bill. SB 1070. A group of 33 lawmakers have formed a bicameral work team to further develop this bill that will bring an estimated 700 million dollars in revenue to be reinvested in Oregon communities. The fossil fuel lobby will again be working to undermine this bill, and block it at the legislature. But if passed, it will bring clean energy to many communities that could otherwise not afford it. Working in tandem with the Clean Fuels Program, it will help Oregon meet emission reduction goals by making polluters pay for the damages that high carbon fuels wreak upon our environment and economy.
In the meantime, businesses at all levels can still benefit from tax credits and incentives. Visit http://solaroregon.org/how-to-go-solar/solar-electricity-for-home-owners/tax-credits-and-incentives-to-go-solar-electric/ to discover what is available. However, without a further commitment to climate policies that price carbon, these investments are likely to languish at a less than optimum pace, at least in the United States.
Climate Policy, Action, and Education