After a year of catastrophic weather events and increasingly dire warnings from experts on the need for climate action, it feels like the spotlight should be on climate change every week. Climate takes center stage this week as today marks the official start of Climate Week NYC, an annual international climate summit that has taken place in New York City since 2009. This year, the very timely theme is “Getting it Done.”
The week will feature a combination of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events focused on achieving and increasing the commitments that businesses, governments, and other organizations have made to mitigate climate change. The Climate Week NYC events will be organized around ten themes: built environment, renewable energy, environmental justice, transport, finance, sustainable living, nature, policy, industry, and food.
The transition to renewable energy sources like wind and solar is a key part of reducing greenhouse gases and combating climate change. When generating electricity, wind, and solar power produce zero carbon emissions. And in the United States, wind and solar power avoids the carbon emissions equivalent to taking more than 79 million cars off the road each year. Reaching a majority renewable energy future by 2050 will lower emissions from the electric sector 76% by 2005 values, helping to meet most of the targets set under the Paris Agreement.
In addition to lowering emissions, the environmental benefits of clean energy include saving water and helping to improve air quality. Wind and solar projects save 256 billions of gallons of water each year, the equivalent of filling more than 387,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. Clean energy sources also prevent harmful air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from entering the atmosphere. Decreasing these pollutants helps reduce smog and the rates of asthma attacks and other respiratory issues.
Renewable energy isn’t just good for our planet, it will help strengthen our economy too. Clean power already employs 415,000 Americans across all 50 states; wind turbine technician and solar installer are the first and third fastest-growing jobs in the country. According to the ACP’s most recent Clean Power Quarterly Report, the U.S. installed a record setting 5,620 MW of wind, utility-scale solar, and battery storage in the second quarter of 2021. And much more is on the way.
With the right supportive policies and regulations, the industry could deliver over 1 million clean energy jobs across the county 2030. These will be good-paying, family-sustaining jobs, with clean energy workers making 30% more than the national median wage.
Addressing the global climate crisis offers us a unique opportunity to reimagine our energy and economic systems, making them cleaner and more efficient. With stable and long-term policies in place, clean energy will play a major role in achieving our climate and emissions reduction goals.