by Laura Clise
Earth Day made its debut on April 22, 1970, in response to the call by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson for a nationwide protest to protect the environment. What began as a statement of environmental activism, and gave birth to the U.S. EPA, is now increasingly linked to addressing economic crisis, international development and foreign policy. Environmental concerns have become increasingly a part of mainstream debate as governments and local communities around the world weigh in on topics including climate change policy, water accessibility, and deforestation. In other words, Earth Day and environmental awareness have become a lot broader than saving whales, planting trees, and recycling used cans.
The current call for a global transition to a low carbon economy presents both economic opportunities for investment in new technologies and simultaneously necessitates that countries like the U.S. make significant progress on the policy front.
The recent Ceres Conference: Achieving a Sustainable Global Economy brought together business leaders, investors, environmental and public interest organizations to examine critical domestic and international sustainability issues. A breakout discussion on, “the water energy conflict,” focused on the simple relationship between the two in a carbon-constrained world: Power uses water and water uses power. Both water and power are closely linked to climate change and have implications beyond the environmental realm.
As a leader and advocate for CO2-free power generation, AREVA is engaged in a multi-stakeholder dialogue regarding climate change, energy efficiency, and environmental impact and offers technological solutions that support the global transition to a low carbon, resource-constrained economy. Sustainable development is an integral part of AREVA’s global industrial strategy, reflected in its new enrichment facility in Idaho Falls, which will use 50 times less electricity than the previous technology and will not use water for its cooling process as well as the AREVA U.S. EPR reactor, which will save one million tons of CO2 annually compared to a coal plant.
Given the concurrent economic, energy, and environmental challenges, every day must be Earth Day. Individuals, communities, companies, organizations, and governments need to continue to integrate environmental, economic, and social sustainability into long-term growth strategies. If we relegate advocacy for environmental citizenship to a single day of awareness and activism, the consequences will negatively impact the economy, energy security, and geopolitical relations, threatening the sustainability of development around the world.