Since December, 2015, world leaders from 195 nations have signed the Paris agreement, a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. This agreement, an achievement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them.
On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, joining the company of only Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not to uphold the agreement. This action was taken despite it being against the wishes of the majority of Americans and America's allies.
In response to this action, local and state governments, businesses, colleges, universities, and individuals across the United States banded together to declare that we will continue to support climate action and meet the objectives of the Paris agreement. This collaboration, lead by Mike Bloomberg and the Bloomberg Philanthropies, came to be known as We Are Still In. In addition, individuals could optionally publicly pledge their own support through a related website I Am Still In.
In support of this groundbreaking collaboration by Americans to meet the objectives set for the Paris agreement despite the federal government's withdrawal, We (Cari and Scott) are joining this collaboration and committing to our own set of measurable objectives and targets, and to publicly reporting on our progress towards these targets in the years ahead. All of our objectives, targets, actions, and reports will initially be provided through this web page. Our intent and our initial goals are here recorded in the following pledge.
We, Cari and Scott, pledge as follows:
- We pledge to support renewable clean energy. In light of there being no renewable clean energy options from public utilities in our area, we commit to installing rooftop solar on our home in order to produce as much of our own renewable energy as possible. Details of this commitment are provided below.
- We pledge to continue to enhance our own energy efficiency, until such time that all of our energy use is provided by renewable clean energy. While this may involve any number of actions over time, as a part of our initial pledge, we commit to installing new high efficiency windows on our house. Details of this commitment are provided below. We also commit to a continued support of high efficiency vehicles, and in particular electric vehicles that can be powered by renewable energy.
- We pledge to continue to support organizations that work on climate action or environmental protection. This may include, but is not limited to, public promotion, volunteer action, and financial support. For financial support, we commit to periodic donations, and once our rooftop solar is operational, we commit to reserving half of all utility bill savings from solar power generation to be used in the interest of those organizations.
- We pledge to report on our progress in a public forum (initially this web site). This includes providing information on our goals, our actions, and where possible, measurable results. (for progress information, follow the links at the top of this page for Our Activies and Our Energy Statistics.)
This pledge will be reviewed on a yearly or bi-yearly basis to reassess our commitment based on our financial position, the findings of the most current scientific evidence, and the level of individual support we deem is necessary to ensure a healthy environment for future generations. We also reserve the right to halt any and all commitments in the event of any unforeseen financial hardship.
Rooftop Solar Commitment
Our goal in installing rooftop solar is to advance the use of renewable energy. Had their been an option to buy renewable energy from the utility, that is the approach we would have taken. However, in light of their being no such option, we are choosing to advance this goal on our own by installing our own renewable energy source.
Target date for initiating rooftop solar installation is May, 2018. Depending on availability and desirability of Tesla solar products, we may let this date slide should we choose to give preference to Tesla, but this flexibility will not extend past December, 2018. If we want Tesla's product offering, but it is still realistically unavailable by the later date, we will proceed with another solar installer at that time.
We are intentionally committing to specific dates to immediately make clear the weight and seriousness of this commitment. Furthermore, our commitment to reserve half of all utility bill savings for environmental action causes is meant to make it abundantly clear that this solar installation is intended primarily to advance the transition to renewable energy and not merely as a personal economic investment.
We have already begun researching possible rooftop solar installers. Our top two choices are Tesla, whose products and services are not quite ready yet, and Wentz Alternative Energy. Initial estimates are that we can support anywhere from 24 to 34 panels on our roof. We will be working with the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) of our Home Owners Association on this project; at present, it appears we will have the first home in our neighborhood with rooftop solar. As the first home, and with no preexisting guidelines, we will be working with the ARC to determine new guidelines for rooftop solar installations within our community.
High Efficiency Windows Commitment
Timing for first window replacement will coincide with the rooftop solar installation. Depending on cost, we may choose to replace all windows, or initially only replace roughly half of the windows, with the remaining windows to be replaced at a later date. Windows at front of house will take priority, as they are in the worst condition.
We expect this commitment to result in a reasonably significant improvement to our energy use, as our current windows are "builder" grade and in poor condition, some having visible gaps where they do not fully close.
We will also be considering other measures to increase our energy efficiency and environmental friendliness as well, but those other measures have not yet been fully planned, and thus are not part of our initial pledge. Follow Our Activities to learn what other measures we take in the days and years ahead.
High Efficiency Vehicles Commitment
At present, we have one electric vehicle rated at 88/90 MPGe, and one hybrid SUV rated at 30/27 MPG. Future vehicle purchases will be selected with intent of increasing efficiency above the vehicle being replaced. Historically, we have already made significant steps in this goal; just 5 years ago, we had two gas powered vehicles rated at 17/26 MPG and 16/22 MPG respectively.
The Paris Agreement
- We Are Still In - Open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement from U.S. state, local, and business leaders.
- America's Pledge - Letter from Michael Bloomberg to United Nations Secretary-General
- US Climate Mayors - Over 250 city mayors commit to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- I Am Still In - a place to publicly express your own commitment to the Paris Agreement. *Make sure you agree to the terms and conditions before signing
- Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
- Sierra Club
- Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL)
- The Solutions Project 100% Campaign
- Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
- Arcadia Power - Community Solar. From their website: "Arcadia Power is pioneering the first nationwide community solar program. No matter where you live, house or apartment in all 50 states, you can subscribe to solar panels and see savings on your utility bill every month."
- Tesla - Tesla and Tesla Energy are revolutionizing industry and leading the world in a transition to clean energy through their engineering and products for solar power, grid storage, and electric transport.
- Climate Solutions Caucus - 34 member bi-partisan caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives for addressing climate change risks.
- Solar Tax Credit - Congress extends solar tax credit; everything you need to know about the federal ITC
Commentary on Energy Sources
Solar and Wind
Solar and wind power are the future of energy. They are clean, viable, and require little maintenance. The primary obstacle to deep market penetration is intermittency; any renewables critic will tell you that. But what they won't tell you is that we are already well on the way to solving this problem through technology like the Tesla Powerpacks and through greatly increased battery production through endeavors like the Tesla Gigafactories.
In light of all the problems with legacy energy sources, solar and wind can and should dominate our future energy landscape.
We have no ideological opposition to nuclear power. The energy density of nuclear fuel is incredible, beyond what many people can even imagine. However, there are some uncomfortable realities that must be faced when taking a serious look at the nuclear industry. Capital costs are out of control, and the industry has done a poor job of ensuring that reactors are sufficiently safe, and their emergency plans have been entirely inadequate. Fukushima is an unfortunate example of how ill prepared the nuclear industry has been across the globe. In light of solar and wind becoming realistic options, there is no longer any reason to support further buildout of nuclear power at this time.
Despite the current state of affairs, we remain very supportive of continued research into nuclear fusion and advanced nuclear fission technologies. With further advancement and revised policies, nuclear energy could become a realistic option again.
We are against shutting down any well operated nuclear power plants while coal plants remain in operation. We are not at this time against continued operation of existing nuclear plants that are deemed to be safe and responsibly operated.
Natural gas is superior to coal from an emissions perspective, but we believe it's use should be limited to peaker plants. Beyond that, natural gas reserves should be preserved for preferred uses including heating and cooking.
Coal power plants should be eliminated. They should be replaced with solar and wind power, whenever possible.
We are not against government programs designed to help people in industry that is in decline. Related to this, it should be noted that the Trump administration budget proposal proposes to completely eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission, a government program that "supports communities that are negatively impacted by the national market transition away from coal as the primary fuel source in the power sector."