It’s 2016. The climate science is settled. The Paris Agreement is being signed and ratified by nations around the world. The opportunity to create a more just and sustainable future for all of humanity is starting to gain unstoppable traction.
I recently wrote about how we set up the Carbon War Room (which merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute in 2014) to help change markets and mobilise businesses to act on climate change. What we need now is more than a war room. We need industry, government, NGOs and philanthropists to come together to accelerate the energy transition.
The need hasn’t really changed since Amory Lovins’ recommendation to the US government in 1976 - to take the path of renewable energy and energy efficiency, to make a sustainable energy revolution a reality. It has just become more even more logical and even more possible.
We need to aggressively deploy a lot more renewables – wind, solar, geothermal and battery storage – in the power sector, in heavy industries like mining, and in buildings and transport. At the same time, we need to increase energy efficiency to get more out of every unit of energy we produce. Finally, if we are to be successful in increasing global energy productivity and reducing net emissions, then countries need to learn from one another and coordinate efforts. The international community must set realistic expectations for the developing world, and help developing countries move to renewables; bypassing the smokestack stage entirely.
Here’s what Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room are doing to make the energy revolution happen:
• Helping mines across the world build solar parks and reduce their need for diesel.
• Streamlining and accelerating how corporations buy large-scale off-site, wind and solar energy, through the Business Renewables Center.
• Shifting the world’s goods to more efficient ships by stimulating the market for efficiency retrofits.
• Aiming to double the freight efficiency of North American goods movement by working with trucking industry leaders to speed the adoption of fuel efficiency technologies and practices.
• Making commercial sustainable aviation fuels at airports the new normal.
• Expanding shared electrified and autonomous mobility options in major US cities, like Austin, Tx.
• Working with ground-breaking electric utilities and regulators, in states like New York, to overhaul the grid and help integrate more renewable power.
• Helping island nations in the Caribbean to supplant imported diesel with renewable energy and better energy efficiency.
• Accelerating the market for community solar in USA.
• Driving the adoption of super-efficient residential and commercial buildings through demonstrations and pilots.
• Helping the US residential building market better value energy upgrades in property purchase decisions.
• Leading by example with the new Innovation Center headquarters building– that draws no more power than 16 hair dryers.
• Helping China develop the blueprint for peaking carbon emissions earlier than planned and transforming its economy to a high-growth, low-carbon economy. It is hoped this can help provide a blueprint for other emerging economies to leapfrog fossil fuels and get to renewables.
• Working with African governments to electrify countries for the first time with significant renewables, building out clean electric grids from the ground up.
Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room is filling the gap left by the Paris Agreement, working with countries and industries to get more renewables and energy efficiency deployed at global level.
A sustainable future, which we can all be proud of, is within reach, but only if we work together. For more information about these initiatives, visit Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room and read our blog series on virgin.com.