Bringing the message of 100 percent renewable energy to the people

By Rob Sargent
Energy Program Director

As President Trump and his administration attempt to roll back decades of environmental progress, we know there’s no time to waste in moving affirmatively to reduce pollution and complete the shift to 100 percent renewable energy. This summer, we’ve got hundreds of folks working in 27 offices in 19 states across the country educating more than 1.5 million Americans about the promise and prospect of re-powering our country with clean energy.

For years, we’ve polluted our air, water and environment by burning fossil fuels — we were told it was the price we had to pay for progress. That “price” has had devastating impacts on our health. According to a recent report by the Environment America Research & Policy Center, Americans living in 72 metropolitan areas across the country experienced at least 100 days of unhealthy levels of air pollution — exposing themselves to increased risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.

Burning fossil fuels is also warming our climate faster than scientists predicted. 2016 was the hottest year on record, the third year in a row we saw record-breaking heat, and we’ve had 40 years in a row in which annual temperatures exceeded the 20th century average. In response to this warming, we’re seeing increased extreme weather events, from more frequent and extreme wildfires in the West to hurricanes and tropical storms on the coasts. We even saw planes in Phoenix grounded earlier this week because temperatures climbed upwards of 120 degrees.

We shouldn’t have to accept these dangerous effects as normal, especially when we have alternatives readily available. We know that with just renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, we can meet our electricity and energy needs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), we could meet our electricity needs 100 times over with just solar energy, and 10 times over with just wind energy.

Fortunately, despite inaction at the federal level, an ever-growing coalition of states, cities, towns, corporations, and the general public are all-in for a 100 percent renewable energy future. More than 30 cities, from San Diego to Georgetown, Texas to Philadelphia (just announced yesterday!) have committed to completely repowering their cities with clean, renewable energy. Places like Greensburg, Kan.Aspen, Colo. and Burlington, Vt. have already hit the 100 percent goal. The state of Hawaii has already committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045.

Major corporations like Walmart, Apple and Coca-Cola have also set ambitious renewable energy goals, recognizing the importance of moving off of fossil fuels. And earlier this week, Lyft’s co-founders announced a set of climate impact goals, which include moving to all-electric cars powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

All of this is to say that we’re making great progress, but we still have a long way to go to move the entire country to 100 percent renewable energy. In March, solar and wind made up ten percent of the country’s energy mix — which was a record, but we know we need to move to 100 percent, and fast. By engaging over 1.5 million more Americans on this issue, we’ll continue building the grassroots support necessary to accelerate the transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

At the same time, we’re doubling down on our work to win concrete commitments from state and local governments and institutions. We’re leading efforts to pass bills in California (100 percent renewable electricity by 2045) and Massachusetts (100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, 100 percent renewable energy by 2050). In New York, an ambitious bill (50 percent renewable electricity by 2030, net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050) just passed the Assembly. We’ve also launched a campaign to convince America’s colleges and universities to lead the way by going 100 percent renewable.
 
Despite what’s happening in President Trump’s administration, I’m excited about what lies ahead. I hope you’ll stand with us every step of the way as we push for a 100 percent clean, renewable energy future.