Time for Leaders to Lead

My middle son is 15 years old and he is frequently prone to moods and mumbling, and is a generally a distracted teenager. However, on Thursday evening he was sad, frustrated, and embarrassed (not by his Dad’s dance moves, which are awesome) but by the exit from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The rationale behind the decision, and the presented approach to climate change, depressed my son to the point of verbal abuse at our T.V. — shouting with wild hand gestures. His frustrations quickly turned to a decisive clarity about a need for leaders to lead on this important issue.  

Most weekends, I spend a good deal of time driving around metro Denver for baseball games for my youngest son. This year, I have been proud to point out the rooftop solar system on a CU Denver dorm, the water treatment facility powered by solar for a small city, and the multiple system just off Pena Boulevard that represent two different community solar projects, of which I was a part. My sons were like most young boys, sort of impressed but much more interested in turning the conversation to food.

Upon reflection of the decision last Thursday, it dawned on me that I need to do more; I need to lead, and other business leaders, both political and community, need to step up their game on economic analyses and impact reports on both the damages of global climate change and the incredible business opportunity that transitioning to a clean-energy economy represents.

The good news is that the facts and science are on our side. We have continued evidence of job creation in clean energy, with the solar and wind industries creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy (source: Department of Energy, 2017 | Environmental Defense Fund, 2017 | Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). The shift to a 100% renewable powered world is the single greatest job creation and business opportunity that Americans have had as a nation since the end of World War II.

If we want to truly support domestic job creation, we should support a call for the U.S to adopt 100% renewable energy with a massive upgrade to our aging grid, which was mostly built in the 1950’s. We should also embrace the dramatic moves and adoption of electric transportation (personal, industrial, and governmental): we can support our domestic EV industry and networks while eliminating the need for Middle East oil. These policies would provide massive domestic job opportunities.

Upon reflection, I can do more to drive this. It is a classic multi-pronged strategy to channel the frustration towards real, tangible policy and business and societal change. I can do more as a CEO. Creating the 100% clean-powered world will require companies like mine to drive further innovation in advanced battery management and the continued domestic and international deployment of solar and storage projects.

You too can do more: write op-eds; reach out to friends who are not in the industry via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; read and deliver reports, articles, and studies directly to elected officials at all levels of government; adopt an up-and-coming politician working in City, County, or State Government and make that person an expert on global climate change and the opportunity it represents for domestic business and job creation; take your kids on a drive and show them your projects, your results, and your efforts to combat global warming; talk with passion and respect for all our leaders, but also challenge your kids to learn the science, learn the facts, and lead their generation to make better, more informed decisions.

As my daughter, a freshman at Colgate University, reminded me, the good news is that the creation of our new energy future is happening, and support among both her and her brothers’ generation is almost universal. My kids’ generation is ready to lead, but the question remains, are my colleagues, policy leaders, and elected politicians? Leaders need to lead!


Evan Hung