Scientists tell us that we must reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 or the climate may change catastrophically, making life for humans difficult or impossible. About 72% of emissions come from energy production of all types. Therefore, President Biden’s climate directives state a goal of a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero economy by 2050. With the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), signed into law in September 2021, the people of Illinois are on the path to reach 46% of energy from renewables by 2030, charting the path for meeting the goal of net-zero by 2050. This legislation is an example of the level of change needed at the state level. Why do we need to make these changes now? Here’s what’s happening out there and in IL:
|Where we are now:
–Coal plants are closing, people losing jobs.
–Renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner than fossil fuel energy and creates many more jobs than are lost in transition.
–Success of renewable energy efforts so far are huge but stagnating because legislation is needed, people are losing jobs and not enough people are benefitting.
|Where we can go:
–“Rewiring American” plan shows we can electrify everything with existing technology, create millions of jobs, and meet emissions reduction goals.
–Clean energy protects nature and people.
–CEJA, a clean energy law passed in Illinois, provides the structure needed for a just, prosperous transition for all Illinoisans and will bring billions in private investment to the state.
We must have strong laws in place that cause the change we want to see and lead to many widespread benefits, which are local and global. Despite the many myths told, the legacy fossil fuel energy systems must be replaced, and can be replaced with today’s technology. The costs and risks of NOT taking action now are far higher than those associated with electrifying our economy and switching to clean energy.
|Costs of Inaction and Delay
|Benefits of Clean Energy and Jobs Action
|–Climate related and geophysical disasters claimed an estimated 1.3 million lives between 1998 and 2017 (UN)
–8 million people died from fossil fuel pollution in 2018, about 1 out of every five people (Harvard)
–The U.S. has sustained 285 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total cost of these 285 events exceeds $1.875 trillion. (NOAA)
–Biodiversity and natural ecosystems are in imminent peril without drastic systemic change. (Science Mag.)
–Even in solar energy, men are paid more than women, African Americans are underrepresented, and benefits are going to the usual corporate suspects. (SEIA)
|–The Clean Air Act saved 160,000 lives in 2010 alone (EPA)
–The net benefit of federal rules to reduce greenhouse gas emission are calculated at $300 billion per year. (Columbia)
–CEJA in Illinois will bring $1.5 billion per year or new private investments in direct and contract labor (Accelerate Group)
–Over 100 cities across the globe are already getting over 70% of their electricity from renewable energy (CDP)
–A shift to clean energy in the US creates 25 million jobs at peak and 5 million permanent jobs, keeps emissions below target levels, and lowers electricity costs to consumers by $1000-2000/year. (Rewiring America)
Waiting or delaying in any way only harms the future for our children and grandchildren. There is now downside, we just have to choose to change. Let’s go!