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article imageRenewables boom taking place in U.S. despite government inaction

By Karen Graham     Jun 1, 2018 in Environment
When President Trump announced on June 1 last year that the U.S. would exit the Paris climate deal, many of America’s largest corporations said they would honor the agreement anyway, vowing to pursue cleaner energy and cut emissions on their own.
It has now been a year since the president made his announcement - However, hundreds of cities, organizations, and companies across the nation have decided to stick to America's pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions, despite President Trump's efforts to dismantle Obama-era rules that were put in place to protect citizens and the environment.
According to the New York Times, dozens of Fortune 500 companies, from tech giants like Apple and Google to Walmart and General Motors, have become a major driver of the renewable energy movement in the U.S., investing billions of dollars in new wind and solar projects that power their operations or offset their conventional energy use.
“You’re definitely not seeing corporations slow down their appetite for renewables under Trump — if anything, demand continues to grow,” said Malcolm Woolf, senior vice president for policy at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy business group. “And it means that many utilities increasingly have to evolve to satisfy this demand.”
Apple is helping partners around the world reduce their energy use and build high-quality renewable ...
Apple is helping partners around the world reduce their energy use and build high-quality renewable energy projects, like this floating solar photovoltaic facility outside Nagoya, Japan. Photo taken March 8, 2017.
Apple / Newsroom
Is this just a drop-in-the=bucket kind of movement?
In a story covering Philadelphia's commitment to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement, it was noted that the city had cut energy consumption in municipal buildings, started replacing street lamps with LED lights, and launched a major green energy overhaul of its celebrated museum of art.
The writer of the story said, "But these actions represent just a drop in the bucket, faced with the 18 million tons of carbon spewed into the atmosphere by Philadelphia each year. Although emissions have declined, there is only so much the city can do."
But Philadelphia is among some 2,700 cities, states and businesses that declared "We Are Still In" when it comes to the 190-plus nation Paris accord, signed in 2015. And the numbers are growing, day-by-day and month-by-month. This is the "silver-lining' the world is hoping to see.
Searching for the silver lining
And while one city here and one city there might seem to be a drop-in-the-bucket, those individual drops are adding up quickly. And helping to fill that bucket full are the 19 corporations that in 2017 announced deals with energy providers to build 2.78 gigawatts worth of wind and solar generating capacity, equal to one-sixth of all of the renewable capacity added nationwide.
JP Morgan Chase announces its commitment to 100 percent renewables by 2020.
JP Morgan Chase announces its commitment to 100 percent renewables by 2020.
Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 3.0)
And we must not forget the many power companies. Many of the country's top-rated energy providers, like PG&E, Southern California Edison, Austin Energy and Xcel Energy have been integrating renewables into their portfolios, according to the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) ranking of utilities.
And the trend to renewables is accelerating. Corporations have already announced deals for another 2.48 gigawatts of wind and solar for the first half of 2018, with companies like AT&T and Nestlé joining in the renewables revolution.
“We didn’t intend to do this as a statement about Paris, though it has become a statement that we’re definitely still in,” said Brian Janous, general manager of energy at Microsoft. But with how fast wind and solar prices have fallen, we see this as something that makes financial sense,” he said.
While some people still may see all the efforts to reduce emissions and meet the Paris Climate Change agreement as futile, it is not an impossible mission. And there will be a silver lining one day. It is just a matter of not giving up on ourselves or the planet.
More about climate agreement, Renewable energy, fortune 500 companies, committments, Clean energy
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