Nick is a Justmeans staff writer for the Climate Change and Energy & Emissions categories, with a background working on climate and energy issues both on the ground and online. Nick is particularly interested in the interplay between the written word and the creation of on-the-ground change, which he examined in-depth in his senior thesis while at Pacific University. Since graduating from col...
World Leaders Asked to Fight Climate Change with Solar Power
In a well-known story the predates widespread awareness of climate change, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House, to raise the profile of his campaign to transition the US to a cleaner energy economy. When President Ronald Reagan took office, the solar panels on the White House weren't just torn off: Carter-era incentives for renewable energy were abandoned, and the United States was cemented even further into fossil fuel dependence.
Now international climate organizations are challenging Barack Obama and other world leaders to install solar panels again, and usher in a new wave of leadership to combat the causes of climate change.
The "Put Solar On It," campaign is challenging each head of state in every country in the world to install solar panels on their own dwelling by October 10th of this year. The date was chosen because it marks an international day of action during which people all over the planet will hold work parties to reduce dependence on the causes of climate changewhether by putting in solar panels, starting a community garden, or tuning up hundreds of bicycles. The day of action is an opportunity for individuals, businesses, and non-profit groups to lead by example, showing world leaders solutions exist to climate change and fossil fuel dependency. In asking heads of state to install solar panels themselves, activists hope to raise the profile of the day of action and persuade world leaders to truly lead.
It might be easy to brush off the Put Solar On It initiative as making little real headway toward averting climate change, were it not for the level of symbolism that Carter's long-since destroyed solar panels still carry to this day. Indeed, the willingness of heads of state to embrace climate change solutions on their rooftops seems to correspond to a willingness to take wider action. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is the first head of state who has confirmed he will be installing solar panels on October 10th. The Maldivesan island chain in the Indian Ocean threatened by rising sea levelshave has also become a worldwide leader in reducing fossil fuel consumption and the causes of climate change. Soon after Nasheed took office, Maldives set an official goal of reaching complete carbon neutrality by the year 2020.
It remains to be seen whether leaders of larger nations, responsible for far more carbon emission than the tiny Maldives, will similarly embrace Put Solar On It. And of course the truly important thing is for leaders not to stop at putting on solar panels, but to use this as an opportunity to publicly launch wider-reaching initiatives that get their national economies on the path to clean energy. The message of Put Solar On It, and of work parties all over the world scheduled for October 10th, is that solutions to climate change don't have to be so difficult or fancy. The technology exists today to make huge strides toward eliminating carbon emissionsin the US, in China, and in countries all over the world. With a little hard work, sweat, and innovation we can get the whole planet working toward a better future.
So what do you think of Put Solar On It? Is it an effective way to inspire wider policies to prevent climate change? And will heads of state really accept the challenge to install solar panels on their roofs?
Photo credit: Iconic Photos