Commentary: Renewable energy is part of an overall solution to COVID-19

By Tom Brett

We are facing an FDR moment, in which it is essential to properly prioritize our nation’s response to the coronavirus crisis as our government makes massive investments in our economy. 

The opportunity to remake our energy future is here and we must seize it.

Our government’s approach to the coronavirus threat has sadly mirrored its approach to climate change.

First there is denial of the problem, followed by a denial of the severity of the problem, followed by assertions that it is too expensive to fix, including the outrageous calculus that human lives need to feed the status quo.  If the option to sacrifice human life for the sake of the economy is the establishment’s solution, this does not bode well for our ability to handle the even greater threat of increasing climate change issues around the world.

We cannot allow the denial and delays that have characterized our government’s response to the coronavirus crisis continue to jeopardize the habitability of our planet.  Both crises require our leaders to follow facts, listen to scientists, and take action on the dangers that confront our planet.  Like COVID-19, climate change is the ultimate collective action problem.

In the midst of this once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape our policies and futures, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal.  Are you kidding me?”  This is the latest attempt by the ruling class’s spokesperson to protect their interests at the expense of society’s and the planet’s health.

Investments in renewable energy should be seen as a critical element of pulling the country out of what could be a deep recession – maybe even depression – caused by the virus and responses to it.   Renewable energy is one of the fastest growing employment sectors of our economy and can be instrumental in solving the problem of keeping people employed, creating new jobs, and investing in local communities.  The cherry on top of this stimulus sundae is a more livable planet.

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus crisis, Delaware was fortunate to have a budget surplus projected for this fiscal year.  Suddenly everything has changed, and it will take strong leadership and innovation to save our state’s economy from ruin.  Decisions to invest in a clean energy will take courage because we have national “leaders” such as Sen. McConnell associating Green New Deal policies with frivolity.

Let’s call on our senators and representative to insist on significant investments in clean energy.  Let’s call on our state, county and city officials to prepare Delaware to be a leader in the clean energy revolution.  Industries will be born, jobs will be created, and our state’s economy will be strengthened if our leaders have the courage to follow science, and not to practice political demonization.

To those who lack the vision to seize this opportunity to create a sound economy for our state and a more livable planet for future generations, all I can say is “Are you kidding me”!

Tom Brett lives in Millsboro.