By Kim Osborn Mullen
The world is a bit of a mess right now. Some have called it “crisis squared,” which seems spot on.
As the cracks in our culture have widened into chasms, any wins we see in the Climate Crisis must be tempered with the tragic pandemic reality we’ve all been forced to endure. But, let’s take a deep breath (of slightly cleaner air) and look at the good signs emerging in the climate crisis fight.
Renewable Use is Rising
Colorado’s electricity from renewable sources has more than doubled since 2010 to 25% of net generation in 2019. Sure, it needs to move to a higher percentage and move faster but momentum is growing. A tiny win but we’ll take it.
A huge win for 350 activists in Colorado took shape last week when the Colorado Springs Utilities voted to close the coal-fired portions of Martin Drake Power Plant by 2023 and invest significantly more in clean technology renewable energy in the coming decades. Yippee!
Happily, converting to renewable energy is happening worldwide. More and more countries and cities are including renewable energy policies in pandemic recovery plans, reaffirming their commitment to climate action.
A few examples:
California is set to derive 50 % of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030.
Scotland is officially on track to run on 100 % renewable energy by the end of 2020. Germany recently increased its renewable energy goal from 55% to 65% percent by 2030. The UK is working towards using 50% renewable energy by 2030 with a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Smaller countries too are realizing renewable energy is sustainable and more feasible than fossil fuels. And, something certainly to cheer about, for the first time in over a century, renewables now produce more energy in the US than coal.
Fossil Fuels are Falling
I don’t know about you, but I did a little happy dance as the oil and gas market tanked in April.
During the pandemic, demand plummeted as billions of people stayed home, stopped driving, and stopped flying. Production was down and the price per barrel was briefly below zero. And profits were down. Production has now increased but experts predict the golden age of big oil may be over. A good sign came mid-June when bp oil announced it will slice $17.5 billion from the value of its oil and gas assets. Hurrah!
No, the rapid job loss in the oil and gas industry is not a win and is exactly why we need a just transition now that protects workers and communities. However, we can celebrate that this impact on world oil demand, must force a push for more renewables, forcing fossil fuel companies to leave it in the ground! Sound familiar? YIPPEE!
Youth Momentum for the Win
Though it was a few crises ago, let’s remember to continue supporting the gazillions of young people that hit the streets last September in the School Strike for Climate. Then youth groups rallied in April with Earth Day Live online to continue the push for immediate meaningful action on the Climate Crisis.
Can’t really talk enough about how much the climate movement sees win and after win with powerful youth leading the fight. Huzzah!
Awareness and Coalition building
An important gain for our movement, emerging from Black Lives Matter protests, is seeing the galvanized alliances between racial justice activists and environmentalists. This has been a long time coming and there is still a lot of work to do. Showing up and taking action on systemic racism is a definite win.
And finally, remember what the world looked like during those April days when there was a 17% drop in global GHG and the despair of the pandemic was lightened by glimpses of a return to a healthy environment. What a joy when wildlife ventured into calm city streets, waterways were clear, and cleaner air revealed mountain ranges usually obscured by pollution. The brown cloud over Denver was blissfully gone. That brief respite of the planet created a fleeting vision of a cleaner sustainable future. A vision that could reinvigorate climate activism.
A win all the way around.
Regroup and Keep Fighting
Of course, we know our work is never done. We seek more government action, more coalition building, and more just and equitable recovery. To help regroup and navigate the critical fight ahead, 350.org has created a Just Recovery to push us forward and keep the wins on our side. Onward!
Help us secure more wins for the climate movement! Support our staff and volunteers with the resources necessary to organize winning campaings. Donate here!