Earth Hour, how about Earth Year? Use #YourPower (Day 305)

Earth Hour, how about Earth Year? Use #YourPower (Day 305)

28th March 2015

Tonight at 20:30, all over the world, individuals, companies, government organisations, and possibly even Her Majesty the Queen, will switch off their lights.

162 countries and territories worldwide now take part in Earth Hour.

You can get involved and help to raise awareness about climate change by switching off your lights at 20:30 local time for one hour. You can share your thoughts on the climate change challenge on Twitter using #YourPower.

I recently came across the story of one country, Costa Rica,  whose citizens are prepared to go much further in the battle against climate change. Since the beginning of the year, Costa Rica has avoided the use of fossil fuels altogether.

The Costa Rican government recently issued a press release announcing that during the first quarter of 2015, they relied on renewables for 100 per cent of their power generation.

According to Sistema Eléctrico Nacional (SEN), Costa Rica's national utility company, the nation completely avoided using its oil fired power stations to supply the electricity grid throughout the months of January, February and, thus far, in March as well. At the time of writing, Costa Rica's electricity supply has been fossil fuel free for 75 days.

Now, I accept that Costa Rica is rather different from most countries around the world. It has a vast supply of renewable hydroelectric power to call upon. But let's not scoff at this.  Here we have a country that is doing what is necessary to supply electricity to consumers by making use of the sustainable resources that are available to it. Surely that's worth celebrating?

These four reservoirs, along with other hydroelectric plants, are central to Costa Rican energy production. They are currently being used in conjunction with geothermal, wind, biomass and solar energy sources.

In 2014, WWF reported that Costa Rica ranked first among Latin American countries for use of clean and renewable energy sources. The report acknowledged Costa Rica’s efforts to diversify its energy sources beyond hydroelectric power.

Maybe we should take a leaf out of Costa Rica’s book and redouble our efforts to reduce our dependency on carbon in 2015.  We don't have to follow the Costa Rican route either.  We can pursue greater energy efficiency, nuclear power, energy storage and carbon capture.  And maybe we can switch out a few lights too.

Action is needed to mitigate climate change now. As US President Barack Obama says in his Earth Hour video: “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it”.

Chemical engineers are well placed to deliver real action on climate change.  Switching out the lights is only the start.

If you are working on a solution to combat climate change, why not get in touch and share your story.