On most (quarantine) days, it might feel a smidge perverse to think of the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity. Our economy is going to hell, we’re losing jobs in droves, and we can’t even go enjoy a good restaurant meal. But in our shattered state, we also have a chance to rebuild—healthier, more resilient, and more equitable than before. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—and a responsibility—to move our country forward to a healthier future rather than backward to a status quo ridden with critical underlying conditions (read: climate crisis, inequities, broken healthcare system…). This cartoon (from illustrator Brenna Quinlan) captures the moment well:
Putting stimulus funding toward clean energy is a critical way our government can capitalize on this opportunity and move us forward.
By investing in industries like wind, solar, electric transportation, and others, we can emerge from this crisis closer to unlocking the clean air, healthier communities, stable domestic energy sources, and massive job- and value-creation that clean energy offers. To be clear: the transition to clean energy is already underway; we now have a chance to accelerate it—in a game-changing way. So let’s tell our representatives how we want our money invested.
If this thinking resonates with you, you’re not alone: most of the American public is already on board. In an April poll, two-thirds of voters supported giving stimulus funding to renewable energy companies, while less than half supported bailouts for the oil and gas industry. Accelerating the clean energy transition in this moment isn’t a technical or PR problem—it’s a political one.
To emerge from this pandemic crisis stronger than when we started, we need to focus on “building civilization back in a hardier and more resilient form,” as climate advocate Bill McKibben recently put it. Isn’t that part of the American ethos? So—why can’t a clean energy economy be the next great chapter in our country’s history?
Originally published in the 5/20/20 edition of our Flip the Script newsletter.