The latest UN climate report is dire, but the 'Clean Energy Generation' is choosing action over despair and gaining traction toward a healthier and more sustainable, enjoyable world than we’ve dared to imagine.Amy Rawe | March 29, 2023
The recently-released report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t mince words: humanity is racing against the clock to salvage a sustainable planet. How we face the worsening climate crisis can continue to be a collision course, or we can heed the call for a major course correction.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres summarized the gravity of the years-long climate analysis by saying,
“This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts – everything, everywhere, all at once.”
The consequences of failing to act are in plain sight. Increasingly common climate impacts like extreme heat and droughts, rising seas and floods, wildfires, and storms are already dramatically reshaping the planet. But we’re not reducing greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to stop it.“Humanity is on thin ice,” Guterres says. “And that ice is melting fast.”
It would be easy to dwell in fear, despair, and anger, but the same IPCC report that warns we’re on a climate collision course also provides a roadmap to slash global warming. The outcome is still up to us.
The IPCC report calculates that if we fast-track the rollout of clean energy technologies and break away from fossil fuels, we can reduce planet-warming pollution enough to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. Every fraction of every degree of carbon pollution that isn’t released into our atmosphere matters. Every small bit is worth fighting for.
That’s Where We Come in as the Clean Energy Generation
The Clean Energy Generation is a movement of people taking action for a common purpose, and what we’re fighting for doesn’t require sacrifices or loss of lifestyle. In fact, the clean energy reality we’re creating will be more secure, safe, affordable, and enjoyable for all.
Imagine your home is more energy efficient and comfortable and your monthly energy bill is a fraction of the cost that it is now. Imagine when your children ride clean electric school buses powered by the sun to school and they are no longer exposed to harmful toxins of diesel school bus exhaust. There are countless ways our daily lives will be easier, our communities will be healthier, and our environment will be cleaner if we embrace climate solutions like clean energy and electric transportation now.
The Transition is Already Happening
The clean energy transition is happening now. Innovative and proven clean energy technologies already exist. These solutions will continue to improve our quality of life while slowing climate disruption. The decline of coal, the rapid rise of renewables, and the move toward electric transportation are already underway. For example, just in the electric transportation sector in the Southeast alone, the region has gained an estimated $54 billion in investments and 54,000 EV-related jobs.
There are solutions and collaborations among corporations, industries, communities, and individuals happening daily. This is just a handful of wide-ranging examples:
- Major companies like Amazon, UPS, and FedEx are transitioning to electric vehicles, and the US Postal Service is finally replacing its fleet with EVs, too
- Communities are showing the resiliency of renewable energy, such as the small solar-powered town not far from Hurricane Ian’s landfall that kept the lights on during the catastrophic storm
- Corporations and businesses are investing in local communities, such as Google and Sol Systems helping low-income homes become more energy-efficient across North and South Carolina
- Organizations like faith groups are ensuring climate equity and climate justice lead the transition
- Neighbors are connecting neighbors with affordable clean energy services, like residents in North Carolina who spread the word about an energy efficiency project
- Students are forging clean energy innovation solutions, such as middle schoolers in Alabama who built a solar-powered tool to help students in Ukraine
Investments are Turbo-Charging Clean Energy
As time goes on, clean energy opportunities will only become more mainstream, available, and affordable. For the first time in our country’s history, we have a massive influx of investments for clean energy and climate action through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). These investments are already shifting our economy. According to tracking by E2, in the first six months since the IRA was signed into law, private companies announced at least $64 billion in new investments, creating over 53,000 well-paying jobs in our local economies. That’s just in six months. By 2030, it’s estimated that 1.5 million new jobs will be created in clean energy industries.
Not convinced that will impact your state? Take a look at this map tracking the IRA and BIL investments made in communities nationwide. Federal and private investments are driving the biggest economic transition we’ve seen in generations, and this transition is happening in states you might not expect For example:
- In Georgia, Republican governor Brian Kemp has aggressively courted renewable energy, battery, and automotive companies; more than 35 electric vehicle and solar-related new projects since 2020 total over $21 billion in investments since 2020
- Tennessee led the nation in GDP growth in 2021, thanks to Ford Motor Co. and LG Chem’s plans for a $5.6 billion electric vehicle and battery production complex outside Memphis
- South Carolina was chosen as the location for a $1.3 billion lithium processing plant to supply electric vehicle and battery companies, thanks to tax credits and other incentives from the IRA
Clean energy technologies are providing an exponential number of solutions and economic development investments that will improve our quality of life and our local and state economies — while also slowing climate disruption.
Are You Willing to Imagine What’s Possible?
The transition is already happening but needs a groundswell of momentum if we’re to slow the ticking climate time bomb. As U.N. Secretary-General Guterres sums up,
“We have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge – but we must move into warp speed climate action now.”
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, co-author of All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, asks, “What if we get this right?” Rather than spending our time dwelling in the worst-case scenarios of failing to meet the climate crisis, the vision we need to focus on is this — the quality of our daily lives, our local economies, and our environment will be vastly improved when we, as the Clean Energy Generation, succeed in creating a healthier future.
Our ability to fight the climate crisis depends on how many of us show up. We don’t have to have all the answers. Learning more is a great way to start. Join us in the Clean Energy Generation, and together we’ll share ideas, resources, tools, and inspirations to reshape our world as the Clean Energy Generation.
We have the power to get this right.