Is Greenpeace on a roll? Forget the kayaktivists for a moment. They’re also doing something interesting on Greece, using a touch of their symbolic capital to draw attention to the country’s potential for economic-ecological solar win-wins. This is just a quick note following up on my piece on the lesson’s of that country’s fiscal water-boarding, austerity and climate politics. I’m not delving into details.
But here are the basics. Greenpeace has set up an Indiegogo campaign called Solarization of Greece, which opens with they pretty attractive subhead “From Austerity to Abundance.” The basic logic is pretty straightforward:
With energy poverty being one of the most dramatic symptoms of the Greek crisis (6 out of 10 households are struggling to pay their energy bills), investing in the abundant sun, the country’s biggest asset, will be key to a Greek recovery.
It will help us put money back in real people’s pockets by reducing their energy bills, it will help put people back to work with new skills and opportunities, and it will help support a renewable energy revolution that is sweeping the globe.
Currently, hundreds of millions of Euros are wasted every year importing expensive oil for power generation onto the so-called “Island of the Sun”, while the island’s most generous energy source remains underutilised. Worse still, people living there continue to face serious energy shortages.
Cheap solar energy will not only provide immediate financial relief for families, it will also drastically reduce expensive oil consumption, and create much needed jobs; particularly among the young.
They’ve even made a cute little video:
Greenpeace’s ED, Kumi Naidoo, drives the point home on in a Huffington Post piece:
Greece’s short-lived ‘PV Spring’ of 2009-2013, driven by a feed-in tariff scheme, provided a glimpse of the country’s real solar potential. Within five years installed solar capacity jumped from 47 to over 2,500 megawatts. A total of €4.5 billion was invested in modernising the energy sector and created around 50,000 jobs. In all, around 100,000 Greek families benefited from the rise of the solar PV industry in one of the European countries most renowned for its sun.
Today, Greece is in a position to do much more.
Now obviously you can’t turn around Greece’s equivalent of a Great Depression with an Indiegogo campaign. In part, because as that video shows, the intrinsic cuteness requirement of online feelgood campaigns gets grating—fast. Still, if the environmental movement shifts harder in this direction—low-carbon economic development, timed well, and widely communicated—it’s only for the good.
Solar panels alone won’t save us. But greens piling on to solarize Greece wouldn’t just give that country’s leftist political project a shot in the arm. (Um, and why wasn’t Left Platform leader and #grexit hawk Panos Lafazanis plumping for this kind of thing since January to all who would listen?) The green movement would also benefit from taking this kind of fight more seriously, building alliances with fighting political movements in the looming battle against eco–apartheid.