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Climate Change – Challenge and Opportunity

Climate Change – Challenge and Opportunity

Several new reports this summer have painted a sobering view of the challenges we face in combatting climate change. Coupled with the unprecedented weather events wreaking havoc around the world, the situation can feel overwhelming for many of us. Yet, amid challenge, there is also opportunity.

Too often, the dialogue around climate change is framed in terms of limitations. Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change is portrayed by some as an extreme sacrifice that will kill jobs, progress and the economy. However, evidence tells us otherwise.

Thanks to technological innovations, the costs associated with solar energy generation have dropped by 80% over the past decade. Georgia has seized upon this opportunity, and our state now ranks among the top ten U.S. states for installed solar capacity. Georgia is home to one of the largest solar panel manufacturing facilities in the world. More than 200 companies were active in Georgia’s solar industry last year, supporting well over 4,000 jobs.

It’s worth noting that this economic progress was achieved at a time when solar energy still provides only a small share of our state’s electrical power needs. Significantly ramping up clean solar energy generation to meet more of Georgia’s demand would create even more jobs and economic benefits, while also eliminating large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

I was inspired by the solutions-oriented innovation on display at last month’s Georgia Climate Conference that was organized by the state’s Department of Natural Resources and co-sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. Representatives from companies, nonprofits, state and federal agencies, and universities discussed proven and emerging solutions for meeting the state’s changing needs.

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