Energy consumption increased with economic development. Indeed, energy is imperative to support human development. Even in developing countries, smart inventions are beginning to make a better use of energy, such as clean cooking solutions, mini grids, and small scale lighting solutions.
According to Hummel, in America, there are two points that are important to focus on. First, America has to reduce oil dependency, especially in the transportation sector. New models of cars have recently been created such as the Tesla model S or Hype car model and Volkswagen SO1 but there are still many things to be done. Secondly, climate change has to be fixed quickly. Deep de-carbonization pathways are challenging but feasible.
Holmes Hummel underlined 3 main calls for our time for energy technology transition : Sufficiency, Security, and Sustainability. According to her, it has to be based on different grounds for Policy Engagement.
Rules frame market conditions for private sector. The U.S. benefits from clean energy tech and we buy from those who invest in it to realize competitive returns in the market. Rules create markets, which motivate investment to deploy technologies.
However, US clean energy investments have been trending in the opposite direction of national interests.
Policy-makers face pressure from competing interests to balance benefits and burdens, (Ex. America Clean Energy and Security Act, 2009). Such an issue is not only environmental but also human. Unequal distribution of benefits and burdens can systematically subject low income populations to environmental hazards. As Hummel put it, « Sustainability is fundamentally a matter of equity and justice ». And there is a strong link between democracy and sustainability.
Energy transition also enables the U.S. to create more jobs and new channels for investments. Consequences are ecological, human and financial.
She finally asked the following question: how can we answer the calls of our time for equity in a way that opens access to opportunity and rapidly scales up investments in clean energy solutions, in distressed areas?
Some solutions are already there:
- The Pay-as-you-save approach based on intellectual property developed by the Energy Efficiency Institute
- Debt free financing for cost effective investments in efficiency for all homes and businesses without denying service based on income, credit score or home ownership status
Large scale and low-cost financing for investments in distributed clean energy solutions is a game changer.