Millennials Should Focus on Social Consciousness and Their Global Carbon Footprint
2020 has undoubtedly been a year full of heartache, depression, and loss. But there is something to be said about the positives to be taken away, especially as our country is now entering into election season, where our country’s biggest concerns are (allegedly) brought to the table.
One conversation that I feel is crucial to the younger generations, millennials in particular, revolves around energy consumption and our carbon footprint. And it’s one we hear very little about, even as the 2020 U.S. Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates continue to reflect the disconnect (and disinformation) that our country seems to thrive off of.
My interest with energy conservation here is that millennials should be thinking about how their global carbon footprint impacts their community, which contributes to local social activism and social consciousness. We can’t make a national impact without first thinking locally.
I came across IGS Energy, the third largest energy retailer in the nation, who has been publicly outspoken on its mission to be completely carbon neutral by 2040.
Its CEO, Scott White, explained to me why the need for sustainable energy is a conversation we all should be having today, as the global coronavirus pandemic has forced our world to rethink its priorities.
“Many energy companies are too incentivized to maintain the status quo of providing non-renewable sources of energy that drive disastrous climate change through polluting emissions,” IGS Energy CEO Scott White explained to me. He referenced utility companies that often own coal-mining and generation facilities. “They’re also bound to a wide variety of stakeholders who have broad influence over how they source their energy,” he added.
As a private company and one of the largest energy suppliers in the nation, IGS Energy wants to give that choice in sourcing their energy consumption to consumers, with solar, wind, hydro, or other renewables. “The need for sustainable energy is critical for absolutely everyone, everywhere,” White says. “The unprecedented increase in worldwide population — from 3 billion people to 7 billion people in 60 years — has increased our energy consumption which is contributing to climate change.”
For millennials and Gen-Z who play a critical role in buying decisions, they are the energy consumer for the future, according to White. “They have a socially conscious driven mission as a generation to reshape our energy future.”
This plays into IGS Energy’s mission too, in providing renewable electricity and carbon-neutral natural gas to all its customers:
“By now, we all know the threat posed by climate change, and it will only get worse if we continue traveling the path we’re on. As an energy company, we think we’re in a strong position to help accelerate a shift to sustainable energy. But we need to do so in a gradual, smart way to fight climate change while meeting the demands and expectations of consumers. Curbing our carbon emissions through the widespread use of sustainable energy can help slow the effects of climate change and it’s something we all need to take responsibility for and do our part to protect the plant for future generations.”
Prior to COVID-19, discussions over sustainable energy and energy conservation centered around how to bring independent energy companies closer to the average consumer who believes in the global utility of using renewable energy. That hasn’t changed, according to IGS.
“The decision to provide 100% renewable electricity and carbon-neutral natural gas to all of our customers was not one we made as a result of or during the COVID-19 crisis,” White says. “For IGS, this is a holistic change in our approach as an energy provider to create a healthier planet and we’ve been working on this shift for years.”
Nine months into COVID-19, discussions have certainly changed. “The pandemic has helped sharpen our focus on the collective health of the planet and really underscored the need to take care of each other; much like it has for many people. Going green for an energy company is a natural and critical step toward that goal.”
White pointed out that Amazon, Microsoft, and recently, Apple (more than 25% of Fortune 500 companies) have made the pledge to go carbon neutral with target dates ranging between 2030 and 2050. “COVID-19 has served as a springboard of sorts, putting a heavier focus on clean energy and the impact a collective effort can have upon climate change.”
But this is no easy task, as White recognizes the realities of our socio-economic and political climates that make these conversations difficult.
“Moving to renewable energy sources is not a new conversation, but the path to achieve energy independence has become smoother over time with advancements in technology and progressive shift in the mindset of the consumer. It is however, a continuous effort to educate the energy consumer specifically on the cost efficiency as well as the collective long-term impact of the environment.”
Renewable energy programs today, according to White, are considered to be cost efficient and an impactful investment in our future. “The cost for consumers seeking energy from sustainable sources, like green electricity and carbon neutral gas, on average is $10/year more for a homeowner, compared to IGS Energy’s traditional offers. While that cost difference is minimal, the trade-off is huge in our quest to provide renewable energy options for a healthier planet.”
Unfortunately, climate change has continued to be a topic of political party divide, where now, it’s fair to say that we are starting to see a shift.
“It is a challenge, but we need to move forward together, steady, and committed to a cleaner future. And we will get there.”
What You Can Do?
So what can energy companies, like IGS Energy do to further accelerate the cause?
First, educating consumers on what it actually means to be “carbon neutral” is a great start. For the uninitiated, carbon-neutral, according to White, means that our operations and products will be free from climate-change inducing carbon emissions through renewable energy, or the use of carbon offsets.
Second, businesses can and should be a force for good, White says. “Capitalism and free markets are the best way to solve this issue, but the government and nonprofits have a huge role in this issue as well. We all need to work together if we are going to truly address this important issue. By listening to each other, we can see the value each brings. IGS Energy empowers consumers to play an active and vital role in shaping the health of the planet.”
And most importantly, to millennials, White wants you to know that “you do have choices about how you manage your carbon footprint and that includes what kind of energy you consume and where you get that energy. I hope that by reading this article, people will have the confidence that there are energy providers that are taking responsibility for the future of our world. I also hope it encourages people to educate themselves about the choices they have. We have incredible power to make change just by the choices we make.