The livestream of "24 Hours of Climate Reality," embedded below, begins at 6 PM Eastern on Monday, December 4. Or you can go to www.24hoursofreality.org.
Between the Trump Administration’s assault on the EPA and the heartbreaking images of communities around the world struggling to emerge from the devastation of floods, hurricanes and wildfires, it often feels like good news about the climate crisis is in short supply. It’s easy to fall into patterns of despair and hopelessness.
But what too few people know is that the United States—along with both developed and developing nations around the globe—is in the midst of a transformative clean energy revolution that will solve the climate crisis as we know it. But this potential sea change will require all of us working together to make it a reality.
Because of the last decade’s scientific and technological advancements in solar, wind, and other renewable energy solutions, the twenty-first century will see a worldwide shift to a clean energy economy. Thanks to the painstaking work of innovators who have worked tirelessly to find and develop working alternatives to fossil fuels, renewable energy technologies are not just sitting in a research and development labs somewhere in Silicon Valley. They are out in the world, powering our homes, businesses, places of worship, government buildings, and, increasingly, our cars and trucks.
These technologies are more readily available than ever before, and perhaps surprisingly to some, they’re cost-competitive with their fossil fuel counterparts—and only getting cheaper. The low cost of producing and storing solar and wind energy has ensured that clean energy is here to stay. Despite the Trump Administration’s empty promises to make fossil fuels great again, studies show that solar is already cost competitive with coal in many places in the world and that it will surpass coal as the cheapest form of energy everywhere on the planet with 10 years. And our abundant supply of solar and wind means communities in every corner of the world can have access to reliable energy sources, a prospect that has the potential to lift entire communities out of poverty.
Prudently, investors are beginning to capitalize on the moneymaking opportunities afforded by this new sector, meaning that we’ll only continue to see more homes and buildings powered by renewables. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 72 percent of the $10.2 trillion invested in new power generation to the year 2040 will go toward renewables, mostly new wind and solar PV plants. Follow the money and you’ll see it leads to renewable energy. Major companies like ExxonMobil and Shell, which have historically focused on coal, oil, and gas, are working to make clean energy technologies a robust part of their portfolios, signaling that even the fossil fuel industry has seen the canary in the coal mine.
As the president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand how the affordability, reliability, and availability of renewable energy technology has manifested itself in a clean energy revolution sweeping across the United States and the rest of the world. States, cities, towns, and businesses have committed to transitioning to renewable energy, paving the way for others to make similar pledges aimed at creating a clean energy economy that benefits all people. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Salt Lake City, Utah, localities are recognizing the social and economic benefits of renewables and taking substantive steps to create the infrastructure and policies needed to spread them far and wide.
More can and should be done to invest in bringing the cost of clean energy down and our capacity to store it up. But the good news is that the basic technological solution to the climate crisis—clean energy—is already here.
Now, it’s up to us to use it—to switch our homes and businesses to renewable electricity sources, to invest in and drive electric cars, and most importantly, to use our voices to speak up and demand policies that will hasten the arrival of a true clean energy economy. With a groundswell of activists and voices championing the solutions in front of us, we can make a future unburdened by the climate crisis a reality.