In 2019, IKEA invested $2.8 billion in renewable energy infrastructure. IKEA put 1 million solar panels on 370 0f its stores and warehouses, and also built 535 wind turbines and 2 solar parks. The goal is to be climate positive by 2030. IKEA shows that we have the solutions. So, what’s stopping us from implementing them?
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) May 3, 2020
If large corporations like IKEA, Target, and Walmart have found that solar is appealing from a financial as well as environmental position, then what is the holdup for others? Is it lack of awareness? Is it mental, corporate, and bureaucratic inertia?
Implementing clean energy solutions is not impossible or even hard to do. The desire or urgency to do so isn’t there for many people and businesses, unfortunately. That is because there is more money being invested and spent on companies that pollute this planet.
Google has boasted about making the “largest renewable energy purchase in history.” Google announced that it made a renewable power purchase (which is really more than one purchase) totaling 1,600 megawatts. The projects are planned to be built across the US, Europe, and Chile and will increase Google’s total wind and solar power agreements by more than 40%.
On the flip side, Google has made donations to conservative think tanks that deny climate change. It also works hand in hand with big oil via its Google Cloud Platform to help oil companies find and locate new oil and gas. “Oil and gas companies like Schlumberger rely on Google Cloud to scale workloads, such as seismic interpretation, regression analysis and classification, and fast basin modeling and simulation. With Google Cloud Platform, these workloads scale up in minutes, including clusters with several hundred (or thousand) cores and are billed based on the compute seconds used,” a Google spokesperson stated.
Yes, I understand Google has a business to run and needs to make its money, but this just goes to show that money is the key ingredient here. Google might be big enough to survive without helping big oil. You know, it has a decent business strategy outside of that. But big oil has money. Money talks. It’s as simple as that.
The good news is that there are many companies are out there advocating for a better way of using energy. Elon Musk and Tesla are the most vocal about creating a sustainable lifestyle, but there are many smaller companies out there doing their part as well. In Chicago, LuminAID makes solar lanterns that illuminate large areas via an inflatable, opaque chamber. The lanterns are easy to pack and ship. These are great for emergency kits as well as for use in impoverished areas in the world that don’t have what we have here in America — electricity. In Los Angeles, Local Roots Farms uses clean technology that focuses on growing foods. They use recycled shipping containers as a farm while also using 97% less water and growing 300 times more produce per square foot.
Those are just two examples of lesser-known companies creating products that use renewable or recycled materials and cleaner energy. There are many ways to help, but, again, when you have large oil companies making it rain money, politicians and billion-dollar corporations continue to go where the money is, simply because the desire for profits leaves less room for the desire for clean energy. The desire may be there and may be promoted via their PR arms — just like an individual’s desire to change their way of doing things for the better and also be acknowledged for it — but they often end up falling back into old patterns because there is no sense of urgency making that desire stronger.
With the coronavirus, we have a deadly virus that is spreading quickly, killing many. And it has no clear cure. The desire and urgency for a vaccine is there, but we don’t have one yet. With climate change, people just aren’t dying in the manner they are with the coronavirus, so the desire and urgency aren’t there, even though the long-term threat is much greater — much, much greater. Even though we have all the solutions we need at our fingertips right now. This is a sad truth, and it’s a really messed up society if what it takes to save ourselves is millions of people dying at a fast rate.
We have the tools, just not the desire or urgency to use them.
All images via IKEA USA’s The Better Life Report.