Extreme Temperature Diary- Saturday June 13th, 2020/ Main Topic: Fighting Racial Inequality Inside Clean Energy

Saturday June 13th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Fighting Racial Inequality Inside Clean Energy

Dear Diary. Every Industry for several decades has had to fight inequality when it comes to racism. Minorities need to be represented in all walks of life since a diverse society is a dynamic society, one that readily progresses due to different ideas bubbling up from many minds from very different backgrounds. Also there is the matter of fairness. Currently we need to right wrongs, particularly in the United States, which was built on four centuries of slave and very low wage labor. A free and fair society has a great chance to exist for an extremely long time, creating the opportunity for happiness among most individuals. So, as we move towards being green, it would behoove clean energy to have a diverse, well paid workforce.

Here is much more from Inside Climate News (I’ve posted about half of this article. For the full article please click this link.):

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/10062020/inside-clean-energy-racial-inequity-solar

Inside Clean Energy: The Racial Inequity in Clean Energy and How to Fight It

The industry is growing, but jobs and financial benefits are not distributed equally.

Dan Gearino

By Dan Gearino

Jun 11, 2020

A trainer works with a student at a 2019 solar install in Washington, D.C. overseen by GRID Alternatives, a national nonprofit that makes renewable energy and job training accessible to underserved communities. Courtesy of GRID Alternatives
A trainer works with a student at a 2019 solar install in Washington, D.C. overseen by GRID Alternatives, a national nonprofit that makes renewable energy and job training accessible to underserved communities. Courtesy of GRID Alternatives
Inside Clean Energy

In this moment of reckoning and reflection about racial inequity in our country, it’s time to be forthright about the inequalities in the rapidly expanding business of clean energy.

This industry is providing economic opportunities, but the benefits are not distributed fairly across races and income levels. Predominantly white and affluent communities are getting most of the jobs in the solar industry, and also most of the clean air and financial benefits of having solar on their homes.

“Today the solar industry has to reckon with the fact that we do have an industry that is trying to play within a system that is built on structural racism and we have to think more holistically about how to change that system,” said Melanie Santiago-Mosier, managing director of the access and equity program for Vote Solar, who described the industry’s problem of “employment and deployment.” 

Some background: In 2019, the solar industry’s workforce was 7.7 percent “black or African American,” according to the Solar Foundation, while black workers represent 13 percent of the U.S. labor force.

At the same time, residents of neighborhoods with black or Hispanic majorities are much less likely to have rooftop solar than residents in white neighborhoods, even after accounting for differences in income and home ownership rates, according to a paper published last year in the journal Nature Sustainability.

Among the reasons for this disparity in rooftop solar use may be that solar companies are marketing their services less in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

It doesn’t take much of a leap to see a connection between underrepresentation in the solar work force and the lower use of solar in some neighborhoods. Whole communities are much less likely to have job contacts in the industry, and are also less likely to know someone who has rooftop solar and can talk about its benefits.

Solar Worker Demographics

These discrepancies touch on a larger environmental justice issue: Majority black neighborhoods also have higher levels of air pollution from industry and fossil fuel electricity than majority white neighborhoods, according to a large body of research.

The inequities in solar power are a major concern because the solar industry is likely to be an increasingly important part of our economy.

If the benefits of this industry are mostly limited to people who already are in a position of privilege, this leads to justified resentment. And that resentment can be exploited by industries that want to slow down the transition to clean energy. For example, some utilities have sought help from NAACP chapters to oppose rooftop solar, based on the idea that the benefits of solar are going to mainly white and affluent households, shifting costs to everyone else. The utilities’ argument is shaky at best, with little evidence that solar cost-shifting is anything more than a minor issue, but there is no escaping that black communities have not gotten a proportionate share of the benefits of solar.

I’m mostly focusing on solar power today because the issues with rooftop solar are glaring. But advocates have also raised equity concerns about access to electric vehicles and energy efficiency services.

I asked Alvaro Sanchez, environmental equity director at The Greenlining Institute in Oakland, California, about the steps needed to begin fixing inequities in clean energy. His organization works to reverse racial disparities in economic opportunity, and energy is a big part of its efforts.

“What I have been thinking about in the last couple of weeks has been that it almost feels like finally everybody sees what we have been saying for a very long time,” he said, “that systematic oppression, white supremacy and racism are really at the core of the way we’ve developed everything here.” 

So how do we begin to deal with this problem as it applies to renewable energy? Sanchez thinks that the government needs to take a leading role to make sure that the benefits of clean energy are available to everyone. The government is a leading funder of research and development for clean energy and provider of subsidies for projects, and he wants to see this funding come with more of a focus on equity.

Ultimately, he said, this is good for business, because renewable energy companies would be reaching many more potential employees and customers.

Here is one big “ET” recorded on Saturday from Thailand:

Here is more climate and weather news from Saturday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(As usual, the most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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