Go Green in 2016

‘Tis the season of prognostications in the media for 2016, but how can anyone make serious predictions in a world full of uncertainties and surprises (think Trump, Paris terror attacks, and Kobe Bryant’s retirement)? To guide my own conjecture, I looked back at 2015 for signposts and found four big ones worth mention.

Paris COP21: A Real Turning Point

As the former Secretary of the California EPA, and in my current role as the President of Seventh Generation Advisors and Strategic Advisor to the R20 Regions of Climate Action, I have long been an advocate for the power of action at the state and local level in the fight to curb climate change. 

Bottoms Up

A new global agreement on climate change is in the works and could be completed later this month in Paris. It’s a good thing, because epic droughts, record-breaking heat and cold waves, and killer storms have become the new normal, along with countless other examples that validate the predictions that have been made by our best scientists for decades. But pledges from national governments alone may not be sufficient to solve this global existential challenge – – they must be backed up by action.

The Candidates Climate IQ

As the world gathers in Paris to hammer out a new comprehensive agreement to tackle climate change, the success or failure of that deal will rest to a great degree on the next President of the United States. Regardless of one’s political or economic views, or scientific understanding of the topic, a lot is at stake for the world’s environment and its economy, so our next choice of President matters. Here then is a summary of the candidates “climate IQ” (focused on those most likely to win their party’s nomination based on current polls*):

A Green Technology That Isn’t So Green

I have 10 kilowatts of solar panels on the rooftop of my home in Santa Monica, California, enough to power my energy needs most of the time. Instead of selling excess power to the grid (and buying energy at night when the sun isn’t shining) I’d like to install batteries in the garage, storing enough energy in daylight to power my home when it’s dark.

Volkswagen, Donald Trump, and the Pope

This may sound like one of those bad jokes about three unlikely bar patrons, but German automaker Volkswagen, presidential aspirant Donald Trump, and Pope Francis actually have something in common. All three shared headlines in the past few days about the environment and climate change.

Carbon Confederacy

As recent news focused on stories and commentary about removing the Confederate battle flag from public property, there has been a little-watched movement by secessionists of a different stripe.   

Yes, a number of leaders are calling on states to secede from the union once again, at least as it applies to the national environmental laws that are designed to protect public health and save money. I’m tempted to compare these misguided politicians to Donald Trump, because their reasoning makes no more sense than a certain New York billionaire who is running for President, but let’s just call them the Carbon Confederacy.

Utilities Going Small

Last month in Rio de Janeiro, I spoke at a conference of the non-profit Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), which may be the most disruptive and subversive organization you’ve probably never heard of.

The Second Coming of Solar

For nearly half a century, homeowners and utilities have mounted solar panels on rooftops and in massive generation projects in the desert. 

Water, Water Everywhere

By now you’ve heard about the epic drought threatening every California water user, from almond growers to swimming pool owners, resulting in mandatory cutbacks and ostracism from neighbors for being the last on the block with a green lawn.