143 countries are currently on track to switch over to 100 percent clean, renewable energy the 2050. Many companies, cities, and states are committing to the switch as well. In fact, Denver has committed to run complete on renewable electricity by 2030.
What is it?
Renewable energy is energy that comes from a source that is not depleted when it is used. Wind and solar power are common examples of this kind of energy. Moving water, organic plant and waste material and geothermal energy are also examples of renewable energy. It’s counterpart, nonrenewable energy, is energy that comes from a source that is depleted when it is used. Natural gas, coal, and oil are well known examples of nonrenewable energy. Nuclear fission of uranium can also be classified as a conventional or nonrenewable power source. Our impact partner, Unite to Light, sells lights that are powered with solar power. Additionally, this company donates a light to someone in need for every light they sell. As of March 2020, Unite to Light has distributed 125,000 to 78 different countries. As a result, they have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 9.29 million metric tons (MMT), and has saved $18 million in energy costs.
Why does it matter?
The short answer is because of climate change. The longer answer is the continued reliance on nonrenewable energy sources will only exacerbate the climate crisis and its effects. One of the major contributors to climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere and stay in the atmosphere for varying amounts of time. For example, methane hangs out in the atmosphere longer than carbon dioxide does. The increase in greenhouse gases traps more heat in the atmosphere which means that earth warms up. Climate change itself is a mix of the greenhouse effect and as well as a few other factors that produce a change in the climate. Global warming is an inaccurate in that climate change does more than warm the earth. On the whole, climate change intensifies weather patterns which means more natural disasters occur and with greater intensity, droughts are extended and harsher than the year before, and some areas get more intense rain patterns. Essentially, climate change intensifies the weather and climate of any particular area.
So, why does the use of renewable energy matter? As it pertains to greenhouse gases, renewable energy is far “cleaner” meaning that they do not emit as much greenhouse gases as conventional energy sources do. It is particularly important for the private sector to use and invest in renewable energy because it will pay off in the longer run by helping mitigate climate change. Industry tends to pay any fines necessary to continue business as usual rather than adapt their systems because it is currently more profitable for companies to continue to run on conventional energy rather than retrofit and switch to renewables. In the long term, the longer industries rely on nonrenewable energy, the worse off everyone will be in the coming decades when it comes to the climate crisis. Island and coastal regions are hit first and worst by these climate change effects. These communities are often in a lower socio-economic class than those who have yet to truly experience climate change in all it’s nightmarish glory. This tends to mean that those who have the greatest experience with climate change are not being heard. Thankfully, this is starting to change with the fast approaching election, the recent coronavirus pandemic, and the increasing popularity of social media over the past few decades.
It is important that consumers become more conscientious and research companies before purchasing products because consumers can incentivize more companies to switch to renewable energy through their purchasing power. We vote with our wallets every single day, so we might as well make it count. It is becoming increasingly easy to do the research needed to make informed choices that reflect our values. So go out and get informed! Your switch to products that support renewable energy will help guide companies into a cleaner tomorrow.