I will never forget the chants that echoed through downtown Washington during the March for Our Lives last month. These young students were able to rally hundreds of thousands in support of their very important cause. While still thinking about this significant moment, I have been wondering what can be learned from these students who, in record time, were able to build such national, if not global, momentum. And yes, indeed, I think that there are lessons we can learn—especially in regard to Earth Day.
Let’s think back for a moment. The first Earth Day in 1970 really evolved as a rallying cry for the environment, against pollution, powered by the apex of American anti-war counter culture sweeping campuses across the country, establishing it on the national agenda. But the question here is – since then, have we, the environmental and clean energy community, really been working in the most collaborative way possible?
Due to the most recent changes in energy and environmental policy, more people than ever are concerned about our cause. We have seen Governors, Mayors, municipal leaders – Democrat and Republican alike – collaborate to make our country more sustainable, clean, and just. There have been carbon taxes proposed, clean energy goals signed, and climate targets set. But there are also those who have withdrawn from climate agreements, or suggested that car fuel efficiency standards are too aggressive. So today we find ourselves too far from where we could be, with too many stakeholders pulling in different directions.
Here is my idea: energy efficiency can lead the way. Its mission is inherently bipartisan. It is the cheapest energy resource available—and on top of that, it saves money. It can help with the integration of renewables, and prevent the need to build additional peak energy capacity which comes at a monetary and environmental cost. So taking the example of our youths marching on Washington, and honoring the spirit of almost 50 years of Earth Day, let’s make energy efficiency lead the way to a stronger environmental and clean energy movement.