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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - January 2017

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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - January 2017

by Tish Levee

Hope about climate change in 2017?

At first, that seems like an oxymoron. How can we be optimistic about the state of climate change when the world just keeps recording hotter and hotter temperatures along with weather extremes—there’s snow for the first time in 112 years in Egypt—and the incoming administration has appointed climate deniers and skeptics, anti-environmentalists, and proponents of more fossil fuels to the cabinet (a Guardian article shows where each cabinet pick stands at http://tinyurl.com/hhjqtbg).

So then, where’s the hope, the optimism? 

Well, actually, there’s a lot. Recently as the world has moved ever closer to a tipping point on climate change, many people have woken up, stood up, and spoken out. One example is the outpouring of support for the Standing Rock Sioux and shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline. This has carried over to actions aimed at divesting banks and others not just from the DAPL but from fossil fuels entirely.

Solar energy is becoming the world’s cheapest form of new electricity generation. In China and 57 other emerging markets, solar power’s cost is about one-third what it was in 2010, and it’s now cheaper than wind power, which it’s expected to exceed in capacity for the first time, while beginning to undercut fossil fuels. 

Here in Sonoma County, we’ve reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 11% in just eight years. Because of the work of our local Center for Climate Protection (CCP) and the Clean Power Exchange (CPX), two million people are now served by Community Choice Energy with five CCE’s as of October and seven more coming online soon. Before Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) came online in May of 2014, there was only one CCE in California. Many other jurisdictions are in some planning stage for having their own CCE.

But this is California, right? We’ve always been on top of climate change. 

True, California leads the nation in fighting climate change. But it’s not just happening here. By 2014, Community Choice Aggregation (also known as CCE) served 5% of Americans.  Seven states now have CCAs with programs in three more states under construction. Illinois has seen the most growth; over 600 municipalities have passed this legislation, including Chicago, with nation’s largest program.

Some good news this election! 

Portland ’s City Council just voted unanimously to adopt the 2017 Electric Vehicle Strategy, to cut carbon emissions from the metro area’s transportation system and make private vehicle use considerably less common.

Las Vegas is now the largest city to power 100% of the city’s government with renewable energy and saving $5 million annually

The Boone (NC) Town Council unanimously voted to make Boone the first town in the nation to officially demand the US completely ditch fossil fuels to “avoid climate catastrophe.” 

North Carolina is one of the top ten solar states. Three others: Massachusetts, Delaware, and New Jersey are also on the East Coast.

Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind project. just started producing enough electricity to power 17,000 homes. Providing all the island’s electricity needs, it supplants old diesel generators and also send electricity into the mainland grid.

• Last year over 42% of Denmark’s electricity consumption was from wind power.

• Set to start service in 2017, Germany’s Coradia iLint train emits only steam and condensed water. In many European countries, there’re still huge numbers of diesel trains – more than 4,000 in Germany. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are also interested.

Google will run 100% on renewable energy in 2017.

France just opened the world’s first solar road, a demonstration project one kilometer long with 2,880 solar panels. It will provide electricity for street lighting for the 3,440 person village where it’s located.

Last December, US lawmakers, with bi-partisan support, renewed tax credits for wind and solar for another five years. It’s not likely this will be reversed. States  are also free to continue offering incentives for renewables.

While global efforts to halt climate change will suffer from a Trump White House and US carbon emissions are likely to stay higher for longer, there is no way that the administration can change energy economics. The renewable energy ship has already sailed.

What can we do? 

One of the most important things we can do is to ask our Senators to deny confirmation to climate-denying cabinet picks. Make a difference and support organizations such as 350.org, Sierra Club, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, the League of Conservation Voters, the Center for Climate Protection, and many more.

© Copyright Tish Levee, 2017