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10 Reasons to Be Optimistic for a Low-Carbon Future

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10 Reasons to Be Optimistic for a Low-Carbon Future

6. Morocco Salute

The fact that Morocco has phased out fossil fuel subsidies and is building the world's largest concentrated solar plant is reason alone to be on my list. But its gracious leadership in hosting global leaders at the UN climate talks in Marrakesh—and its unflagging commitment in rallying the rest of the world behind the ambitious Paris climate agreement, with or without U.S. leadership—was inspiring and profoundly important for the global climate community.

7. States Collective Power

States also have crucial key role in setting policies that shape the energy mix of their economies. And judging from recent state actions, interest in using renewable energy and energy efficiency is getting stronger. Illinois and Michigan both passed clean energy laws this month that will boost investment, create jobs and save money. And yesterday, Ohio's governor took a major step to lift a freeze on the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. California's Jerry Brown has also announced he'll work directly with other nations to fight climate change. In all four states, clean energy measures have strong support from the business community.

Owens Corning built this 2-megawatt solar array on top of its headquarters in Toledo, Ohio.

8. All Renewable

Fortune 500 companies are sourcing renewable energy at levels that did not seem conceivable just a few years ago. With prices dropping and states making it easier to provide green power, industry giants such as Walmart, Google, Apple and Mars all made the plunge to power all of their operations with 100 percent renewable energy. Google, which already has commitments to source 2,600 megawatts of wind and solar for its global operations, plans to hit its 100 percent target in 2017.

9. Unleashing the Money

Investor resolve on the low-carbon future is undoubtedly growing. Citigroup is seeing exponential growth in lending and financing for low-carbon and other sustainable business activity, including $48 billion of sustainable financing in 2015 alone. Yes, that's $48 billion. Even more inspiring is Deutsche Bank's groundbreaking strategy to provide billions of dollars of capital to clean energy businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. The project, recently approved by the UN Green Climate Fund, will combine public and private capital to provide up to $3.5 billion in financing for household solar, solar mini grids and other off-grid clean energy businesses.

10. Christmas Elves: Kate Cincotta left a lucrative aerospace job to start Saha Global, which is providing clean water and solar power to the "poorest of the poor" in northern Ghana. The Boston nonprofit now has 93 water businesses, all run by local women, who are providing clean water to nearly 50,000 Ghanaians. Donn Tice, founder of Frontier Energy, spends his time working with African governments to remove policy barriers that are limiting the sale of off-grid solar products. Last spring he persuaded Sierra Leone's government to eliminate import duties and sales taxes on certain solar appliances. Actions like this are critical in bringing clean affordable power to millions of Africans who live today with no energy except high-polluting kerosene lamps and charcoal.

Peyton Fleming is senior director at the nonprofit sustainability group Ceres.

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