Five ways solar power is improving lives

Aside from tackling the climate emergency, solar is creating essential new income, jobs and services.

Solar is fast becoming the low cost way to generate clean electricity across the globe. As the technology reaches a tipping point, potentially generating the majority of our power between 2030 and 2050 according to recent projections, it is not only its zero carbon credentials that means it is the right way forward. Because solar is capable of producing energy locally, and being owned by many, it is disrupting traditional energy systems and quite literally redistributing power. Solar is, in short, improving lives.

The social impact of this renewable power can clearly be seen in Africa, where in the last decade alone over 200 million now have access to clean affordable electricity, and notably communities in Europe where locally owned energy is rolling out across schools, community centres and housing. Rather than summarise the vast impact of solar across the globe, we’ll focus in on Europe for now.

The origins of community energy

Community energy was first established in the German town of Wildpoldsried in the late 90’s with the development of wind and biomass projects to generate local heat and power. The town is now energy independent, producing over 300 percent more energy than it needs and creating an additional 4 million Euro each year. Oh, and it has since reduced its carbon footprint by a not insignificant 65%. Inspired by this pioneering approach to democratization, community energy has since become increasingly popular across Europe and in the UK in particular where driven groups have seized the opportunity to use the model as a force for social good.

One example of a British community energy success story is Repowering London. Established in 2012 to create resilient, empowered communities that control and own the generation and usage of renewable energy – Repowering is bringing the benefits of solar to the many. Based in Brixton South London, the group has established six community projects with support and investment from over 450 people across the UK. Having installed a total of 387 kWp of solar, their projects are also preventing over 130 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Crowd-funding each project, the solar systems are owned by the local community and also generate funds for essential local services.

Read the full blog on Ecohustler.

Think 100% renewable energy within a decade is impossible? Think again!

A historic new report from Energy Watch shows we can reach 100% renewable energy in just a few decades, and it’s affordable; making this the clear answer to tackling climate change. But, more importantly perhaps, it is already happening; giving us confidence that this can and will become mainstream.

Some of the world’s biggest companies have committed to be 100% powered by renewable energy. From IKEA to Mars, Unilever and Budweiser, 176 companies have committed to source 100% of their power rom renewable energy over the coming decade if not sooner. The full list can be found on RE100.

Budweiser is one of the more vocal 176 ‘RE100 companies’

They’re also helping to make the transition mainstream with their communications. Earlier this year Budweiser broke new ground by producing its ‘Wind Never Felt Better’ commercial showcased during Super Bowl LIII – one of the biggest US sporting events of the year. Parent company Anheuser-Busch, has set a goal to source all of its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and even launched a 100% renewable electricity label for Budweiser.

Read the full blog on Ecohustler.

100% Renewable Energy is possible, it’s now time to demand it

A historic new report from Energy Watch shows we can reach 100% renewable energy in just a few decades, and it’s affordable; making this the clear answer to tackling climate change.

As thousands take to the streets, from Fridays for Future to Extinction Rebellion, the world’s commitment to tackling climate change has never been under such sharp focus. Nations have committed to prevent runaway climate change, in theory, but anxiety is clearly rising from citizens across the globe that time is running out.

With the call for ‘climate action’ louder than ever, why is it yet to get immediate mainstream political traction? There are no doubt many reasons, but one is simply this: it’s a matter of communications. The ask has been too big, too multifaceted and simply not positive nor concrete enough for everyone to rally around, and, yes, there’s been an absence of clear vision.

The Green New Deal movement in the US and UK has made some headway of late, laying out an economic framework for wide spread green infrastructure investment; but arguably it lacks boldness and clarity. Two ingredients required for a big vision to instigate big change. Indeed, the call we’re seeing from citizens is ‘system change not climate change.’

Read the full article on Ecohustler.

The origins and rise of the Extinction Symbol

I interview the Londoner whose design now powers a global movement.

In the 1950s British designer Gerald Holtom created the CND logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The clean black and white icon spread to the US and fast became the international symbol for peace. This is an unquestionable example of the power of symbols to represent, unify and communicate; but just one of millions of signs and symbols used by humans to try and make sense of the world around us. From Aboriginal art to graffiti, visual communication is a core component of civilization; whether enabling social cohesion or social change.

Today, against the backdrop of rising temperatures, daily species extinction and school walkouts across the globe, the environmental movement has finally found its symbol: Extinction Symbol. Seen on flags, walls, and on social media the globe over, it has one clear message: we are running out of time.

It was propelled onto the streets of the UK in Autumn 2018 as the official logo of Extinction Rebellion (XR), the fast growing global social movement for climate action. In six months, Extinction Rebellion has spread across the globe – representing true environmental action. Whilst this icon has been used thousands of times on and off-line, the origins of the icon haven’t yet fully been interrogated. For anyone interested in the role that design and art can play in environmental communication, it’s a fascinating trail to follow.

Read the full interview on Ecohustler.

Interesting reading and links

Here are a few links to things I visit regularly. In no particular order:

1) The Beam - The race to the low carbon economy

2) Carbon Brief - The real climate story

3) Yale Environment 360 - Independent environmental journalism from Yale Univeristy

4) Jeremy Leggett - Climate, energy, tech and the future of civilisation

5) It’s Nice That - The best of the creative web

6) WFMU - Radio station based out of New Jersey