As technology gets cheaper, it's getting easier to take a real stand on climate.
Even before Donald Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, corporations, states, cities and individual citizens were stepping up their own commitments to honoring the agreement. What makes this different to previous years—when George W. Bush pulled the rug on Kyoto, for example—is that each of these entities now has very real, increasingly affordable steps they can take themselves which genuinely move the needle on reducing emissions.
Take this report from Forbes, for example: Electric bus maker Proterra has seen a spike in demand from cities and transit authorities interested in taking a stand on climate. The company, which just opened its second factory and raised $55 million in a Series 6 funding, sees no sign of things slowing down due to national politics. Specifically, the report cites Proterra CEO Ryan Popple as noting a growth in orders since Trump was elected:
“If anything we've seen acceleration at the city level. We're ahead of plan this year on new orders, so that's driving us to increase the (production) ramp, especially in the second half of 2018.”
Of course causation and correlation are not the same thing. It's almost certainly too simplistic to say that transit managers are making their purchasing decisions as a direct reaction to policies or stances emanating from Washington. But if you work for a city that has publicly committed to climate action, it becomes that much easier to invest in next generation technology that will also clean your air and eventually save taxpayers money too.
A massive swath of the American public has made its voice heard regarding an on-going commitment to Paris. As solar power gets cheaper, as electric vehicles get more range and a wider variety of vehicle styles, and as home battery storage becomes viable, it's more realistic than ever for each of us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
The news from Proterra suggests that many cities are putting their money where their mouths are. I hope the rest of us who are committed to Paris are doing the same thing, too.