Climate Change Takeaways From “An Inconvenient Sequel”
Former Vice-President Al Gore’s 2006 Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was considered groundbreaking and played a monumental role in cementing climate change as one of the pivotal issues this century. Eleven years later, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” attempts to bring viewers an update. I attended a special pre-screening of the documentary, followed by a live Q&A with Al Gore, Canada’s Environmental Minister Catherine McKenna and producer Jeff Skoll from Participant Media. The documentary left viewers feeling that the stakes have never been higher but that communicating the truth around climate change is critical and necessary in order to get people to commit to a real energy revolution.
Environics Communications believes in this energy revolution and has taken a leadership role when it comes to the environment – one of the many ways in which my company’s values align with my own. Environics implements everything from purchasing certified offsets for any emissions that cannot be eliminated in the spirit of maintaining a carbon neutral status, to creating waste management and recycling programs that reduce paper consumption.
As I left the screening, I kept thinking about something Al Gore said. “…for anyone who works on the climate crisis, there is an internal struggle between hope and despair. But that struggle always ends in favor of hope.” The film reinforced the significant role we all play in being conscious citizens and doing our part. In Al Gore’s case, he has taken advantage of his position to ensure key messages that can save our planet get across. There were a few takeaways:
What Happens in Greenland, Happens to Us
The film opens with images of the Greenland ice sheets melting: tumultuous mountains of white caving in on themselves, and long stretches of scrubby brownish terrain where, as recently as the 1980s, there was only ice. We learn that routine flooding in Miami Beach or the increasingly violent weather caused when warming oceans pump more and more moisture into the atmosphere can all be traced back to the Arctic meltdown.
Tough Negotiations at the Paris Summit
Pre-summit, India planned on building hundreds of new coal-fired power plants — possibly counteracting all the renewable-energy growth worldwide. Gore spent hours on the phone communicating with the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels – including Tesla – and convinced them to make an offer charitable enough to be a game-changer. This offer eventually led to India signing the accord.
Leading the Way
Al Gore had plenty of praise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s efforts to combat climate change and his help (along with Barack Obama) in ratifying the Paris Agreement. President Donald Trump recently announced plans to withdraw from the agreement, but despite this, the world’s top entrepreneurs and investors – like Bill Gates and Elon Musk— are doubling down on their determination to make sure that the clean tech work advances and jobs are created.
Breakthroughs in Wind and Solar Power
Did you know there’s been a mind-boggling increase in solar projects in Chile during the past few years (solar capacity from the country’s central grid has increased four-fold to 770 megawatts since 2013)? Or that Georgetown, Texas – a mostly Republican town – recently announced it planned to generate 100 per cent of its electricity from wind and solar? Why did the red city go green? It just made economic sense when they crunched the numbers which are a clear example of the rapid decline in the cost of renewables. Plus, the mayor said, don’t we have an obligation to leave the planet better than we found it?
This shows us that besides protecting Mother Nature, there are many other practical reasons for companies to go green such as saving money (because reducing emissions goes hand-in-hand with reducing energy use), staying competitive (because clients want to work with Earth-loving businesses) and retaining employees (because working for a company with heart is a powerful motivator).