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Renewable Energy on the grid. Solar cell panels in the foreground, wind turbines in the middle ground, and electricity pylons in the background. Image: By Kenueone — Creative Commons CC0 1.0Renewable Energy landscape. Solar cell panels in the foreground, wind turbines in the middle ground, and electricity pylons in the background. Image: By Kenueone — Creative Commons CC0 1.0
Renewable Energy on the grid. Solar cell panels in the foreground, wind turbines in the middle ground, and electricity pylons in the background. Image: By Kenueone — Creative Commons CC0 1.0

Renewable Energy’s
Now Cheaper than Fossil Fuels

The US spent $649 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2015
More than our entire defense budget & ten times the federal spending for education

Jul 28, 2019
by Tish Levee

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The timeline keeps shrinking!

When I went to the Climate March in NYC five years ago, we were told that we had 40-50 years before irreversible climate changes set in. Last fall the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reported that we had eleven years. Now, earlier this month, Prince Charles warned global leaders we have 18 critical months to solve climate change and restore the balance of nature.

Climate Breakdown is already happening now!

We see it everywhere, most recently with the increasingly record-breaking heat waves, often resulting in increased air conditioning, which requires more electricity, thus increasing emissions and global heating. Presently 90% of US households and one-half of Chinese homes have air conditioning with 1.6 billion units worldwide—set to jump to 5.6 billion units by 2050.  

So, is there any good news about the climate crisis?

Renewable energy’s now cheaper than fossil fuels.

 

The majority of global energy subsidies are indirect, post-tax forms of support, failing to price greenhouse gas emissions. International Monetary Fund.

Within a year, electricity from onshore wind and solar will be cheaper than any electricity from fossil fuels, a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) forecasts. This doesn’t even consider the “hidden” costs of fossils fuels—from mining and drilling operations, spills, and greenhouse gas emissions, nor does it factor in huge fossil fuel subsidies. A recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) study found that $5.2 trillion was spent globally on fossil fuel subsidies in 2017—equivalent to over 6.5% of global GDP for that year. This included indirect costs of pollution, such as healthcare costs and climate change adaptation. The US spent $649 billion on these subsidies in 2015—more than our entire defense budget and ten times the federal spending for education.

And more renewables are coming.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just awarded the largest offshore wind contracts of any state to date, totaling 1,700 MW.

Offshore Wind Turbines. Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Carbon-free electricity.

Cuomo also signed legislation requiring the state's electricity system to be 100% carbon-free by 2040 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.

California’s SB 100, adopted last September, requires carbon-free electricity by 2045. We were the 2nd state to adopt such a goal, after Hawaii. New Mexico, a heavy coal user, and D.C. have recently adopted this goal.

Bans on gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Cities, including Barcelona, Brussels, Capetown, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Quito, Seattle, Vancouver, and countries, including Costa Rica, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden, are all requiring new vehicles sold after 2030 to be fossil fuel free. 

Meanwhile, electric buses are the coming thing. 

Many of the places banning fossil fuel vehicles will have all electric buses by 2025. In India, subsidies from the central government, will help deploy thousands of electric buses in the next decade. 

Electric bus . Photo: By Ryanmirjanic -cropped original -commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Electric_Bus.jpg

Sonoma County Transit’s first electric bus, Route 24, the free Sebastopol Shuttle, debuted last December and will be joined by two more buses in 2020; Santa Rosa is planning to buy four zero emission buses soon.

In July the California Energy Commission awarded nearly $90 million to replace more than 200 diesel school buses with all-electric ones, eliminating nearly 57,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and nearly 550 pounds of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions annually.  Locally, Sonoma Valley has nine electric school buses.

What you can do NOW—for free—to make a difference.

Stop idling your engine!

Anytime you idle it for more than 10 seconds (waiting in a drive through, at a construction site, picking up a passenger, or warming up the engine), you use more fuel, creating pollution and Greenhouse gases (GHG), than by restarting it. 

You can save one-half a ton of GHG and 27 gallons of gas by not idling your engine. Photo by philipp k. from FreeImages.

Personally, you can save one-half a ton of GHG and 27 gallons of gas by not idling your engine. However, if everyone in the US idled their car engines just one minute less per day, we’d save over 92 million gallons of gasoline a year, reducing CO2 emissions by nearly 225,200 tons.

Oppose new gas stations.

Oppose new gas stations, we don't need them. Photo by julio cesar eyras castro from FreeImages.

A proposed mega gas station at Hwy 116 & Stony Point is dead after 45 community members spoke against it at a June 25th public meeting. Now there’s a proposal for one at Hwy 12 & Llano Road. (with seven stations in a five-mile radius). Get information, updates, handouts, and sign a petition at “No More Gasoline” on Facebook.


For the Planet by Tish Levee

© Tish Levee 2019

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