How can an energy mobility strategy enhance Environmental Justice?
The sharing of freedom of energy and mobility, with justice for all.
There is a term in our industry vernacular, environmental justice, which like “smart city,” means different things to different people.
The reality of environmental energy is that it takes infrastructure funding to get off the ground. It takes a will to ensure that people in disenfranchised communities benefit from the same education about clean power, the ability to witness its construction, participate in its effects, and create learning moments for their children. It takes money dedicated to doing so, whether public or private. And it needs for this to be part of the Triple ROI that we talk about at iSun Energy--particularly the i’s of impact and intention without neglecting the “i” of investment.
As we move towards a greener new deal, we must consider how to supply all people with clean energy and mobility, not just some. We must develop financial formulas and value-sets that are more equitable in how they help determine where to build clean energy and mobility projects. The generation that will take over will be more in tune with the global planet’s survival. The older generation has left them a veritable mess. We can see it in who they work for, who they promote, and who they demote. It is up to the industry not to wait for government legislation but to help craft it in a manner equitable to their stakeholders (which includes shareholders).
Investing in Change
We know change comes from investment. Yesterday’s stakeholders may have been driven by the bottom line (profits, profits, profits), but today’s and tomorrow’s stakeholders care about much more. Impact investing and CSR (corporate social responsibility) are currently at an all-time high. While investors do care about the ROI, they also care about the impact they’re creating in both a business and a community. While people may be quick to dismiss clean energy due to upfront costs, there are much more considerable savings down the line. Money that can instead go directly into the communities that need it. Our public is being fooled into believing that clean energy or vehicles are too expensive, without regard for all of the real costs to our global community from them.
In the end, without placing a value on the pollution created by a total life cycle approach (and yes, that may mean some knocks on energy materials used for solar power or electric vehicles), then how can the value be seen in a different manner than merely financial? And if we want to use financial metrics, no problem…what’s the value of damaged lungs, waterways, air? If you don’t place a value on that, how do you calculate properly? And finally, when it comes to incentives, if you give 100% tax credits for oil rigs, do the same for solar, wind, and other clean energies, and then see how the costs play out.
Simply put, environmental justice means a better, cleaner, healthier, and fairer future for everyone.