Kelly Rigg: Let’s make renewable New Year’s resolutions!

Let's get this part started and begin working towards going 100 percent renewable energy in 2014

Kelly Rigg says, “Let’s get this party started and begin working towards going 100 percent renewable energy in 2014″

Deep down inside, do the people of the world want what’s best for them, Or what’s best for everyone?

This question lies at the heart of my current escapist-reading-before-bed novel Next History: the Girl Who Hacked Tomorrow.

The novel’s 20-year-old heroine stakes her salvation (and that of humanity as a whole) on the answer to this question in a bet made with the devil.

Strangely enough, this got me to thinking about New Year’s resolutions. There’s something about the turning point between old and new that leads people to think about making transformational changes in their lives.

The most commonly made resolutions focus on health and well-being – to stop smoking, eat better, get more exercise, spend more time with family and friends, and so forth.

Sometimes they focus on more outward ambitions: to change jobs, get out of debt, or pick up a new hobby.

But how many people make resolutions aimed at the kind of changes that are not just best for themselves, but best for everyone? Is there a way to do both?

The most transformative change of all – go 100% renewable!

Perhaps the most beneficial, transformative change of all would be one which leads us to a future powered by 100% renewable energy.

To some this may sounds about as plausible as a couch surfing, overweight, beer chugger resolving to run the New York marathon. But in fact we’re already taking the first steps in that direction.

According to WWF, based on existing trends renewable energy is on track to deliver half of our electricity needs globally in around 17 years.

And a recent technical study commissioned by my organization, the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA), shows that we can phase-out net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And there are scenarios which show how this could be done by going for 100% renewables.

Creating political will

In fact, The only thing slowing us down is the lack of political will. The countries winning the clean energy race all have one thing in common: effective national laws and policies which create the incentives to adopt smart energy solutions.

So how can we build political will? By demonstrating that we do not accept the prevailing energy paradigm based on fossil fuels. By demonstrating that we oppose getting embroiled in more energy wars.

By demonstrating we will no longer accept offshore oil spills which destroy our oceans and coastlines. By demonstrating that we reject any form of energy production that contaminates our drinking water.

By demonstrating that we will not tolerate our mountaintops being blown off for the coal that lies underneath. By demonstrating that we will not abide any more nuclear accidents.

And by demonstrating that we find it unacceptable for millions of people to die each year as a consequence of producing and using nuclear and fossil fuels.

Admittedly, that’s a lot to ask from a New Year’s resolution. But we can start with some tangible commitments and encourage others to do the same.

This New Year’s, why not resolve to take steps in our own lives to reduce our energy consumption, to use energy more efficiently, and to get our energy from renewable sources wherever possible?

Five simple steps …

Here are five simple ideas which anyone can do, even if you don’t own your own home, have the money to trade in your gas powered car for an electric one, or have the roof space on which to mount solar panels:

  1. Replace your light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs, saving both energy and money.
  2. Go one day without meat each week, which would not only reduce your carbon footprint, but would also save you 84,000 gallons of water. For that matter, why not do it two or three days a week, or more?
  3. Unplug your lights and electronics when you’re not using them. It’s incredible how much energy we waste that way.
  4. Consider replacing your dryer with a clothes line. This is do-able even in a wet climate like Amsterdam’s where I live, as long as you have a bit of warm space inside to hang some lines.
  5. If you live in a place where this is possible, how about resolving to commute exclusively by bike or public transportation? And if you’re a frequent flyer, you could resolve to fly less. Consider the advantages of “slow travel” as climate scientist Kevin Anderson has described. (He actually took the train to Shanghai from the UK in order to attend a conference.)

 

Apart from reducing your own fossil fuel consumption, you could support projects featured on Solar Mosaic. Turn your 2014 New Year’s resolution into a pledge to “Put Solar on It” – if you make the pledge, Mosaic will give you the tools to make it happen.

And fulfilling your pledge will be easier and more fun if you’re not alone, so join a campaign, and find loads of new and different ways to make your voice heard. Check out the GCCA’s action center for ideas.

Going out upfront and public

Whatever you decide to do, do it publicly! Psychology studies show that that making a public commitment – for example sharing your New Year’s resolution with friends and family – significantly increases the chance that you’ll follow-through on it.

If you do it on Twitter or Facebook, consider using #Resolution100 to demonstrate your commitment to a 100% energy future.

This is our chance to show that we care about what’s good for the world. While we may not be bargaining with the devil, we are most certainly bargaining with our children’s future.

 

 

Related Stories
MEPs rubbish EU Commission’s lack of ambition on climate change

MEPs have voted in favour of the EU adopting

EU told to strengthen 2030 package amidst wave of criticism

The EU Commission has been accused of putting

European development bank turns its back on dirty coal

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Deve

UNEP: Closing emissions gap now reduces climate costs later

There remains a dangerous gap between where t

New report maps the clean energy future of 13 Arab nations

Morocco, Jordan and Egypt have come out on to

UK government urged to invest £50 billion annually in greener economic recovery

A new report is urging the UK government to i

Take Action
Join the twitter storm: Move Kosovo #BeyondCoal

  All eyes are now focused on whether Dr

Sign the petition: Demand EU leaders act on climate change

New petition calls on EU leaders to support s

Map your renewable potential: Inspirational energy stories from across Europe

New map aims to track and boost the renewable

Enter the EarthHack contest: Create the sustainable homes of tomorrow

“How would you repurpose, modify, or combin

Millions worldwide go dark for Earth Hour 2013

For one hour every year, millions of people i

Earth Hour 2012 sets records, inspires millions

From former war-torn countries to the great c

Quick Facts on Energy Efficiency

  • “Energy is part of everything we do, whether it’s driving our vehicles, cooling our tents and our barracks or heating our food…It’s also critical to our communications, critical to our weapon systems and to everything we do in the fight. So anything we can do to use energy better is going to make the men […]

  • The US military has begun using energy efficient technologies to cut energy consumption and minimize dangerous fuel transport in Afghanistan and Iraq, from solar panels to solar rechargeable batteries. “There’s nothing that raises energy [awareness] like actually putting solutions in somebody’s hands.” Source: Press Release

  • The US Government will install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House to demonstrate that these technologies are available, reliable and ready for installation in homes across the country. Source: Press Release

  • Chinese NDRC Vice Minister Xie Zhenhua said“Countries have realized that the traditional high-carbon growth model is unsustainable and that it is in the national interest to grow in a more sustainable and resource-efficient manner. The carbon and energy intensity targets set out in China’s 12th Five Year Plan, together with the forthcoming development of a […]

  • Global sales from energy efficiency products totaled €540 billion in 2007. Source: WWF

  • In order to overcome energy poverty in developing countries, off-grid and decentralized renewable energy is often bestsuited to provide energy services cost-effectively. Also, highly efficient modern biomass stoves are the best technologies to improve substantially the health impact of traditional biomass burning of no more than maximum 20% energy conversion efficiency. This will also reduce […]

  • With less than one tenth of the energy portfolio targeting access and only 30 percent of its energy portfolio funding new renewables and energy efficiency, the World Bank is not in fact prioritizing energy access and clean energy in its lending at the moment. Source: Access to Energy for the Poor: The Clean Energy Option

  • Solar is inevitable not because of carbon but because it is the most effective way to reach the un-electrified poor. Source: Carbon War Room

  • Energy efficiency and key renewable technologies (such as wind) are resilient to other resource threats such as rising water stress, which are posing increasing constraints on conventional thermal power generation. Source: HSBC

  • Strong national and global policies that provide incentives for investment in clean technology, that price fossil fuels in ways that reflect their true economic and social costs, and that assist consumers in using energy more efficiently, have the potential to unleash a significant pool of investment that can serve as a powerful engine for a […]

  • A 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 would require 17% more investment ($46 trillion U.S.) than that required to meet the world’s projected energy needs using conventional energy production (assuming fossil fuel supplies are still abundant). However improved energy efficiency would yield additional fuel savings of $112 trillion U.S.   >> IEA

  • Based on current government policies, primary energy demand will increase globally by 36% between 2008 and 2035, or 1.2% per year on average, compared with 2% per year over the previous 27-year period.  >> IEA  

  • Walmart is moving ahead with plans to eliminate 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain, and GE has announced it has bought 25,000 electric vehicles, the largest single EV purchase in history.  >> GPN  

  • The Empire State Building retrofit will reduce energy consumption by more than 38%, and slash CO2 emissions by 105,000 tonnes over 15 years.  >> Johnson Controls

  • DuPont has cut its energy use to 19% below what it was in 1990, saving between $3 and $4 billion since 2000.  >> Newsweek

  • Spain’s Energy Efficiency Strategy 2004-2012 reduced Spain’s energy consumption per unit of GDP by more than 11.3% between 2005 and 2008.  >> Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade

  • From 1991 to 2005 China achieved average annual GDP growth of 10.2% with only 5.6% annual increase in energy consumption.  >> Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Chinese investments of $912 billion (US) in clean energy and environmental protection will create 10.6 million jobs, boost GDP by $1.3 trillion and provide an additional $220 billion in energy savings.  >> CCICED