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OPINION | Shailene Woodley: US should run on renewable energy by 2050

Shailene Woodley
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Shailene Woodley

Every person on this planet has one thing in common: the need for clean air and water. Right now, our nation is at a crossroads. Fossil fuel companies have pressured members of Congress into denying that climate change exists and is caused by human behavior. These corporations think that Americans won’t notice when their water is polluted and their farm lands are covered in oil.

Americans who care about clean air and water must come together now to support increasing our country’s use of renewable energy. Now is the time to create a just transition away from fossil fuel consumption to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

{mosads}Oil, natural gas and coal are finite. They will run out before the end of this century. Worse, fossil fuels increase global warming by spewing ever greater amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


It is not just global warming that’s a problem, we also must tackle the abuse of our environment by corporations prioritizing profits over people. The fact is, pipelines like Keystone XL and the proposed Dakota Access pipeline will leak. If we continue on the current course, then we’ll be left with oil-soaked dirt and toxic water, wondering where it all went wrong. 

America is one of the most dynamic and inventive countries in the world. The reason we haven’t stopped climate change isn’t because we aren’t trying, it’s because a small subsection of the 1 percent are doing everything in their power to maintain the status quo. From the fossil fuel industries, to the revenue streams they funnel to lobbyist firms and Super PACs, to politicians in Congress and statehouses across the country, efforts to move toward sustainable energy have been blocked. Our environment and our people are being poisoned by the entire corrupt system of profitability in pollution.

America has the technology, the workforce and the need to transition our energy grid away from fossil fuels to 100 percent sustainability as soon as possible. Renewable energy advocates in Congress are working to make that happen — Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sander (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) recently introduced S. 987, the “100 By ‘50 Act,” named for the goal of transitioning our nation to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. 

Our economy is ready to make this transition. Solar panels cost 80 percent less than in 2008 and they’re popping up on rooftops and in fields everywhere. Today, nearly a quarter of the world’s electricity comes from clean, sustainable resources like the sun, wind, and water.

The U.S., along with leaders of seven industrialized nations, agreed in the summer of 2015 to a long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels entirely and moving to an economy powered entirely by clean energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. But, President Trump, reversed that course by withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. We have already started transitioning to a clean energy economy — but we need to do it faster and we need to do it right.

Groups like Bold Nebraska are great examples of how people of all backgrounds can come together to bridge divides and unite people around combatting polluters who profit on harming our communities. Last year, Bold Nebraska brought together farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and climate advocates to delay the Keystone XL pipeline. We can build on their work to combat climate change by organizing at the local level and telling our representatives in Congress to support the 100 by ‘50 Act.

The moment that we quit resisting is the moment that the bankers, billionaires and oil barons seize our land for their profits.

Congress needs to think big and commit to prioritizing a just transition to an economy powered by 100 percent clean energy sources by 2050. That starts with simple, commonsense steps. Chief among them: instead of subsidizing fossil fuel corporations, we can create millions of jobs by investing in clean, renewable energy.

The answer is clear, affordable and necessary — the “100 by ‘50” Act. Every person who values clean air and water must speak up and tell Congress to support 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Shailene Woodley is an actor, climate advocate and board member of Our Revolution, a Bernie Sanders-affiliated advocacy group. Follow her on Twitter @shailenewoodley. 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bernie Sanders Climate change mitigation Coal phase-out Dakota Access Pipeline Ed Markey Emissions reduction Energy Energy development Energy economics Energy policy Environment Fossil fuel phase-out Jeff Merkley Renewable energy Sustainable development Sustainable energy

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