In August last year, the distinguished World Economic Forum awarded Enphase the prestigious Technology Pioneer Award.
Founded in 1971, “[T]he World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”
The Forum’s Technology Pioneers program recognizes a select number of young companies from around the world, “that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies, and hold promise of significantly impacting the way business and society operate.”
As a member of the Forum, we were invited to attend the Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting brings together leaders from multiple industries, governments, NGOs and civil societies.
Many themes played a prominent role, such as the global economy, cutting-edge science, improving education, challenges in numerous different political spheres, world health, empowering women, and tackling disease and extreme poverty. However, clean energy and climate change took center stage for me. I attended Sessions with CEOs of companies in traditional energy, renewable energy, and alternative sources of energy, as well as Ministers of Energy, from around the world.
The energy discussions centered around two key themes: the need to address the imminent danger of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint and the development of new forms of fossil fuels. For the first time, key financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are openly discussing the undeniable evidence and consequences of a warming planet. Solutions must be actively implemented to bend the arc of climate change. Potential issues include mass migration away from coastal communities, increased droughts, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss and food shortages. In fact, both the heads of the IMF and World Bank were very blunt about the potential impacts of climate change if we don’t act now.
Jim Yong Kim, President of The World Bank said, “In the worst climate scenario, my kids will live in a world without coral reefs, with acid oceans and with wars fought over water.” However, Kim also emphasized, “We’re saying a future that is fueled by renewable sources of energy is an exciting future – we need to take action together.” Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF acknowledged that because of the financial crisis, we have been distracted from our need to address climate change, and warned, "Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled."
It was clear that policy makers and business leaders want to not only end subsidies for dirty energy but create a carbon tax as well. However, everyone was quick to acknowledge the challenges in inspiring the political will to do so.
So where does this leave us? If we can not rely on our politicians to create the necessary policy or pass the required legislation to facilitate a transition to carbon free energy, it is up to us. We are the catalyst for the new energy economy. By creating a profitable, growing industry, we can show the politicians that moving to solar energy is not just the right thing to do for the planet, it is the right thing to do for the economy. We can lower consumers’ utility bills, create jobs and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. And as our industry grows in size and clout, we can eventually start to wield the same influence as the established dirty energy companies. In essence, growth and profitability are not just essential to solar, they are essential to the planet.