At the Inclusive Capitalism Conference this week, Prince Charles told 200 business leaders that “We stand at a pivotal moment in history… we can chose to act now before it is finally too late, using all of the power and influence that each of you can bring to bear to create an inclusive, sustainable and resilient society”.
Currently, the renewable energy industry around the world relies on government subsidies to be economically viable. Investors and businessmen in all countries are analysing politicians’ every word and hoping the industry’s lifebuoy is not pulled away.
So far, government led policy has achieved small but reasonable increases in energy generation from renewable sources.
However, recent elections have seen a rise in climate sceptic parties in Europe, a fossil fuel hungry Republican government may soon enter the White House, Australia’s current Prime Minister is a climate sceptic and China’s growth continues to be fed by more coal. Every day politics introduces more uncertainty into the renewable energy market.
The time has come to stop relying on politics and force the change in how the world generates energy.
The challenge of mitigating climate change in the next few decades lies not with the world’s governments but with its business leaders, investors and engineers. With this challenge comes an immense opportunity to push fossil fuels out of the market and instate renewable energy in their place.
When before have engineers had such a clear opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people? When before could money men invest in mitigating a proven, existential risk to humanity?
The key driver will be bringing the localised cost of electricity from wind, solar, marine and other renewable sources below that of fossil fuels. At that moment a giant transition to renewable energy will occur around the world.
Developing countries will no longer need to compromise between economic growth and a safe planet. Developed countries will no longer need to put the lives of the most vulnerable at risk to maintain their standard of life.
The renewable energy industry and the sustainable future of our planet will no longer be at the mercy of political whim.
To foster this change more rewards should be offered to universities working on renewable energy technology. Today’s youth are excited about the opportunities in renewable energy and keen to make a change.
This would help to ensure the industry has the talent it needs to meet the demands of the future.
Those companies with the most foresight are already investing in renewables. Google has invested $1.015 billion in solar and wind projects in America, Africa and Europe and has committed to invest a further $560 million in future projects.
Prince Charles has pointed out in that the short term these choices will be difficult but if investors “stand firm and take the kind of action that is needed… the rewards will be immense… our finances will be sustained and we can find new sources of profit”.
It is time to put the spotlight on the business leaders, investors and engineers that are creating a better, more profitable future for the planet.
What other initiatives can help push the transition to renewable energy? Please leave your comment below.