Our Power, Our Choice

Earth Day 2019: Why We Act for Carbon-free Energy

Excerpted from Vox, April 22, 2019; by Umair Irfan

Earth as seen from the International Space Station on April 3.

From ccenorthcoastal.org: We posted our first blog two and a half years ago, when Community Choice Energy was practically unknown in San Diego County. So much has changed since then: CCE is operational in Solana Beach; the city of San Diego has committed to CCE and has invited the other cities in the county to join them; our north coastal cities have completed their technical study and are exploring the best governance option for going forward; SDG&E, after initially fighting CCE, has decided that they would like to exit the power procurement business. CCE is going to happen here. The article referenced above is titled "7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day," with a subtitle of "We continue to shape life on Earth, and threaten our survival, in unexpected ways." We felt that the article's item 6 was very relevant to our mission - to move as fast as possible to carbon-free energy.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of the world’s top scientists convened by the United Nations, put out a stark report last year highlighting how little time we have left to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The key finding is that if we want to hit this target, we have to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half compared to where they are now by 2030. By 2050, we would have to reach net zero emissions, and after that, we would even have to start withdrawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Otherwise, the window to 1.5 degrees Celsius closes, and we lock ourselves into more warming, which will lead to more sea level rise, more devastating extreme weather, mass migrations, and expensive declines in the global economy.

Despite these findings, we’re far off track and only getting farther. Global carbon dioxide emissions hit an all-time high in 2018. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels crossed a record 411 parts per million, the highest levels since humans have existed. In the United States, energy use hit a record high and greenhouse gas emissions started to rise again in 2018 after years of decline.

That said, we do know what we need to do to accelerate progress in fighting climate change, from pricing carbon dioxide to eating less meat to supporting public officials who will advance critical policies. The IPCC report also provided goal posts of the Green New Deal, a far-reaching proposal for the United States to take the lead in fighting climate change.