Presidents Column - December 2018

How you can take individual steps this new year to address climate change

In this final ISES newsletter of 2018, on behalf of all of the ISES Board of Directors and our wonderful team at ISES Headquarters I would like to extend my appreciation to our members for all of your work and significant accomplishments you have made towards achieving a world powered by renewable energy this past year.  I wish you a very happy holiday season and a successful and prosperous 2019.

This past week, at the annual Climate Conference known as the 24th Conference of the Party in Katowice, Poland, another difficult negotiation among the national governments culminated in an agreement to a “rule book” that each country can follow in meeting its carbon emission reduction goals.  This is yet another small but important step toward achieving the goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement passed at COP21 in 2015. It can be argued that the final actions of the negotiators fell short of the expectations of many of us involved in climate mitigation work.  Recent reports from both the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the U.S. National Climate Assessment both indicate that damaging climate change is occurring at an even faster pace than previously thought.  And at the same time a recent report shows that global emissions continue an upward trend reaching an all-time high in 2018, rather than taking a sharp decline that must occur in order to meet the Paris climate goals.

However, year after year we see that the unmet expectations coming from international negotiations to find agreement on how national governments should address climate change can be more than offset by actions taken at the local and regional levels, as well as by individuals and companies both small and large.  While the COP negotiations get bogged down in process and hampered by conflicting national interests, we see all around the world strong action being taken at grassroots level to transform the way we use energy not only to minimize fossil fuel usage but to strengthen local economies and energy security.  One key step that is becoming popular in many countries, including here in the U.S., is for individuals to convert their households to “net zero plus” homes, where households actually can produce more energy using clean technologies than consumed from the electricity grid.

An example of this approach can be found in a video I recently produced for a company in the U.S. for which I serve as a Senior Consultant, Clean Power Research.  The video shows how to convert a house to a “Solar+ Home” by taking a number of steps that result in dramatic reductions in the carbon footprint of the home.  These steps start with installing a rooftop solar system, and then replacing a conventional vehicle with an all-electric vehicle, incorporating energy efficiency measures, and converting to more efficient appliances, including devices that provide space heat and cooling and domestic water heating using electricity generated from the sun.
Of course, these methods may not work for everyone, and there are many additional steps we as individuals, regardless of where we live, can be taking.  But I encourage you to watch this 5-minute video which can inspire all of us to make use of low-cost solar technologies to reduce our individual fossil fuel consumption, lower our energy costs, and live in a carbon-free environment.

Happy holidays to all!

This article was written by:

Dr. David Renné

ISES Immediate Past President