This Earth Day, COVID-19 Adds to the Challenge of Fighting for a Cleaner Environment
Tuesday, Apr 21 2020
Half a century ago on this day, millions of people marched on streets across the United States to promote a clean environment. Fifty years later, there are two crises facing our planet. One is the immediate COVID-19 pandemic. The other is climate change.
At this moment, thousands of Americans have lost their clean energy jobs and hundreds of thousands are at risk. Solar projects are being delayed or cancelled, with almost 80% of solar companies from a recent SEIA survey reporting reduced business due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.
Reports across the board show that this pandemic has significantly reduced the solar deployment forecasts for 2020 and beyond. A Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables study shows the market falling 18% in 2020, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance has lowered their forecast for 2020 by 28% based on COVID-19 impacts.
A significant decrease in solar energy deployment would be a setback in the fight against climate change. The electric power sector has long been one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases in the United States, representing 27% of all emissions, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Solar energy is playing an important role in slashing power sector emissions. The 77 gigawatts of installed solar capacity in the U.S. is enough to power more than 14.5 million average American homes and offset more than 88 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
We have called the 2020s the Solar+ Decade because we believe that clean energy, new infrastructure, storage and particularly solar energy are job creating, economy building technologies that can create a cleaner and healthier environment in keeping with the vision of Denis Hayes who started earth day in 1970.
Congress can take swift action to stem the devastating impacts of COVID-19 to support the recovery and growth of the solar industry while advancing the critical principles of Earth Day.
The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has been one of the most successful clean energy policies in our history and allowing solar companies to fully utilize the ITC through direct payments will help businesses stay afloat and keep workers on payroll during this crisis. Expanding economy-wide solutions from previous recovery bills while developing new online permitting programs and U.S. manufacturing incentives also can help the American solar industry.
COVID-19 and climate change require bipartisan solutions. This Earth Day, tell your member of Congress that we must #SaveSolarJobs from COVID-19 in order to protect the economy and our 250,000 American solar workers, while continuing the fight against climate change.