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Environment Georgia highlights green energy efforts; climate debate rages in Davos

David Pendered
Environmental Georgia, Renewal Energy 101 Environment Georgia's new report, 'Renewable Energy 101,' is a showcase of successful energy conservation programs on Georgia campuses that can be adopted by entities including cities. Credit: Environment Georgia

By David Pendered

Environment Georgia issued a report Tuesday on successful efforts to conserve energy on college campuses that can be implemented almost anywhere. The report came as teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and President Trump offered competing views on global warming in their remarks Tuesday at the World Economic Forum, in Davos.

Environmental Georgia, Renewal Energy 101

Environment Georgia’s new report, ‘Renewable Energy 101,’ is a showcase of successful energy conservation programs on Georgia campuses that can be adopted by entities including cities. Credit: Environment Georgia

Thunberg is the Swedish teen climate advocate and Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. Thunberg repeated the message she delivered last year: “Our house is still on fire.”

Trump cited the environment about 24 minutes into his 32-minute address. According to a WEF video of Trump’s remarks, Trump described climate change clarions as, “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”

Environment Georgia’s new report offers nuts-and-bolts approaches that are being used on college campuses to save energy and move to clean energy. The idea book offers guidance to entities ranging from owners of commercial buildings to local governments.

The report highlights 11 campuses in Georgia and their successful measures that include: installations of solar panels; geothermal heating and cooling; bicycle commuting, and recycling.

Campuses both public and private are recognized for their efforts. They range in size from the University of Georgia, to Georgia State University, to Emory University, to Fort Valley State University, to Agnes Scott College, and to Spelman College.

A special shout-out went to Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. The report said the building incorporates most of the clean energy principles cited in the report, including: Passive design; energy efficiency; photovoltaic solar electricity production, and water reduction.

The report and Thurberg’s comments mark different points of the spectrum in the discussion on global warming.

kendeda building, marquee

The Kendeda Building is designed to strict standards of sustainability that Diana Blank, who donated $30 million for the project at Georgia Tech, hopes will inspire future generations to ‘change the world’ of the built environment. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

The report shines a light on pathways toward lower energy consumption, which is to help lower emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity. Such gases are the “most significant driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century,” according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As such, the report represents achievable steps that can be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of an individual, a building, a campus and – by extention – a country and the world, according to Channa Childs, a clean energy fellow with Environment Georgia. This is the organization’s first report on Georgia’s college campuses.

The report’s goal is simple, Childs said: “To provide examples for how different entities, at different scales, can implement clean energy solutions.”

Jennette Gayer, executive director of Environment Georgia, said the programs highlighted in the report are building blocks that other entities can adopt.

The increasing involving of young people, to include Thunberg as well as the hundreds of Georgia youths who attended climate rallies in 2018 and 2019, is bringing new energy to efforts to reduce and replace the use fossil fuels, she said.

“Young people are energizing our climate movement, in the U.S. and around the world,” Gayer said. “We are highlighting universities as being on the leading edge of cool tbings that need to happen around climate change. I hope it is a trend that will continue.”

In Davos, Thunberg said she wanted her remarks to spark panic – but has learned that no one seems to be in a panic about global warming. As reported by the WEF, the remarks include:

Greta Thunberg

In her comments Tuesday at the World Economic Forum, Swedish teen climate advocate Greta Thunberg said children are still calling on adults to act on the children’s warnings: ‘We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.’ Credit: weforum.org

  • “One year ago I came to Davos and told you that our house is on fire. I said I wanted you to panic. I’ve been warned that telling people to panic about the climate crisis is a very dangerous thing to do. But don’t worry. It’s fine. Trust me, I’ve done this before and I assure you it doesn’t lead to anything. …
  • Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.”

Thumberg delivered two addresses Tuesday at the World Economic Forum, the annual global gathering of government, business and cultural leaders meeting through Friday in Davos, Switzerland.

Trump cited climate change in his remarks in Davos. After citing economic growth and global trade agreements, Trump observed:

  • “This is not a time for pessimism. This is a time for optimism. Fear and doubt is not a good thought process, because this is a time for tremendous hope, and joy, and optimism, and action.
  • “But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers – and I have them and you have them and we all have them – and they want to see us do badly. But we don’t let that happen. … We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty.”
Trump at Davos

In remarks Tuesday at the World Economic Forum, President Trump spoke of those who campaign against global warming: ‘[W]e must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers….’ Credit: weforum.org

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David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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