“Invest in the future, not in the past,” is the battle cry for green business to win the fight against climate change, according to the United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who opened the One Planet Summit in Paris with these words on December 12, 2017.
At this international event, held under the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macrón, the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and the Head of the United Nations Guterres, decided to reject the fatalist and defeatist theory about climate change and instead issue a call to action to world leaders and committed citizens across the globe. Only through collective action does the world have a chance to confront the major challenges of this environmental emergency that are growing increasingly harder to ignore.
The importance of this meeting led by these three leaders was the launch of an ambitious project to address the principal effects of climate change. The leaders agreed upon 12 initiatives and created the One Planet Coalition. This trilateral leadership will secure that these commitments are kept, and to achieve these goals over the following months they have been working diligently toward their implementation prior to their next meeting to measure progress at the 2nd One Planet Summit.
This is a US$2 billion initiative with the goal of deepening local capital markets, as well as expanding and releasing private funds for climate-related projects. To-date, more than US$1 billion has been committed to the fund.
These efforts have motivated global leaders today more than ever to create alliances between and among governments, civil society, the private sector, and foundations that can identify and fund solutions to this global threat. The private sector is already seeing that, green business is good business. To this end, Antonio Guterres pointed out that in dozens of developed and developing countries, renewable energies are now cheaper than energy from carbon sources, and as a result, it is critical to invest in the world’s future energy sources, rather than its past.
Traditional heavy oil and gas sources can emit harmful pollutants into the atmosphere if not utilizing the latest technological advancements to reduce their environmental footprint.
For example, in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean island vulnerable to climate change, a local power generator (EGE Haina) recently completed the groundbreaking of the construction of its 4th wind energy farm, called Larimar 2, located in Enriquillo, Barahona, in the southwest of the country. The wind energy farm Los Cocos in the southern Dominican province of Pedernales, was the first, followed by another in the nearby province of Bani, along with another in Montecristi, near the border with Haiti. This company EGE Haina generates 18 percent of Dominican Republic’s energy, a growing percentage of which comes from wind turbines.
Costa Rica is another country utilizing its natural resources for energy security. The country’s high precipitation rate allows it to increase the amount of water in its hydroelectric dams. Increasing its capture rate of the rain is helping to make Costa Rica’s energy grid derived from renewable sources by 2021, when combined with solar and biomass. Costa Rica is close to becoming the first Latin American country to power all of its energy from renewable sources, and lead the way for the hemisphere. With the increase in extreme weather events, collective action is needed to harvest the surplus waters, winds, and heat as smart sources of energy.
Imagine a future emergency power-generator fueled by winds and water that can help places like Dominica and Puerto Rico recover more quickly from the devastating hurricanes, like those seen this year. Well, that future is upon us, through forums like the One Planet Summit and public-private sector partnerships, such as that between the government of Puerto Rico and Tesla Motors. The Puerto Rico-Tesla relationship began years ago when the island tried attracting new jobs and has been strengthened in the wake of Hurricane Maria and the offer made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, to restore power on the island through the solar energy micro-grids. Musk and Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello connected after Hurricane Maria and restored the energy in a children's hospital in San Juan as well as six similiar energy projects that scale-up Puerto Rico’s solar energy potential.
Tesla’s Elon Musk was among the 164 prominent figures at the One Planet Summit in Paris. Tesla and many others in attendance are helping countries think creatively and act expeditiously to maximize local and global impact that improves our chances against climate change.
Geovanny Vicente Romero is the founder of the Dominican Republic Center of Public Policy, Leadership and Development. He is a political analyst, international consultant and lecturer based in Washington, D.C. He writes a column for El Diario La Prensa, La Opinion and El Nuevo Día.