There can be no greater endeavour than investing in the future of our children, a sentiment which all Americans would surely agree with. If polling evidence is to be believed, the majority of Americans are also convinced one of the major threats endangering that future is climate change. And they say the evidence is already showing itself, through recent droughts and storms such as Hurricane Sandy, the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic hurricane of 2012.
A fact sheet, produced by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), which provides information on climate change polling in the United States over the last year from a variety of sources, makes illuminating reading. Overall, says the EESI, studies show:
The American public’s concern about climate change, while still below 2007 levels, is on the rise nationwide.
This trend holds across party lines, with greater numbers of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans viewing this as a serious issue that will affect them in their lifetimes.
Additionally, more are convinced that global warming is caused by human activities rather than natural causes.
Higher percentages of minorities say climate change is happening and support the president taking steps to address the issue.
While a majority of Americans support the increased deployment of clean and renewable energy and regulation of power plant emissions, support remains weak for a carbon tax or cap-and-trade measures.
As electricity demand soars across the world, leaving governments wrestling with the consequences, the race is now on to look seriously at non-polluting renewable forms of energy production as a means not only of curtailing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, but also of plugging the energy gap whilst maintaining energy security.
It’s a big ask, but to sit back and do nothing is simply no longer an option for governments, either politically or economically. We take for granted that the room will light up whenever we flick down the light switch. Business and international trade also expect the same degree of certainty, and rolling blackouts like those seen across Egypt over recent years, for example, does little to engender confidence let alone increase investment levels within a country.
The good news is there are numerous multi-billion dollar renewable energy projects completed, or nearing completion, all around the world. Although collectively they still represent a drop in the ocean as far as reversal of climate change effects goes, at least they are a step in the right direction.
One of the largest renewable energy ventures anywhere is the multi-phase London Array, which is already feeding clean, green energy into the UK’s national energy grid system. Expected to cost more than $4.5 billion when fully operational, the world’s largest offshore wind farm is expected to power some half-a-million homes.
Built some 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex on a 150 square-mile site, the first phase, involving 175 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 630 megawatts (MW) of energy, is all but complete. A possible second phase could add enough capacity to bring the total to 870MW.
The sheer size of the joint-venture project and the amount of investment involved is an indicator of just how much potential profit there is to be made within the renewable energy field. Perhaps the search for profit – not concern over the future of our children – might ultimately prove the driving force that saves our planet.You can view the EESI fact sheet by clicking here.
Erich Nadhir writes about finance in the Middle East. He moved to the UK 10 years ago is married with two daughters.