Women Are Leading the Fight for Renewable Energy

Ms. is launching a series of reports on the blog and in print to look at the organizing models of some of the women-led groups helping to build a sustainable grassroots movement to boost renewables and combat climate changes. The series will end with an interactive online webinar and briefing with leaders from Mothers Out Front and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition to empower readers who want to advocate for renewables in their communities. This is the first installment.


As scientists continue to sound the alarm on the urgent need to tackle climate change, there’s now fear the Trump administration will quickly undo whatever progress has been made.

Joe Brusky / Creative Commons

Trump’s cabinet has many climate deniers and those with strong ties to the fossil fuel industry. Climate change is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas, to produce power. This releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide, increasing global warming and leading to shifts in climate and weather that can have devastating effects.

But just last week, Scott Pruitt, the head of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), questioned carbon dioxide’s major role in global warming. Besides discounting and causing confusion around climate change facts, there’s also concern this administration will potentially withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement on climate change, dismantle the Clean Power Plan, Barack Obama’s signature climate policy, and gut the EPA’s budget while reducing its authority. The administration has proposed a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget, making it the hardest hit federal agency in Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

Given this, plus the magnitude of the politicized problem, dealing with climate change can feel overwhelming at times. But there’s hope.

Besides efforts by some states, cities and companies, many local women-led groups are stepping up and pushing renewable energy as one climate change solution. Their work is expanding the use of renewables like wind and solar power and accelerating the transformation of our energy system to one that’s cleaner, more localized and less dependent on fossil fuels.

One of these groups is Mothers Out Front, which includes mothers, grandmothers and other caregivers across the country. “We started out with an idea that if mothers were invited into a space and given the opportunity to work with other mothers on these issues for the sake of protecting their children that they would embrace that opportunity. And it’s true,” says Kelsey Wirth, co-founder of the organization. “If ever there were a source of hope given the state of our nation right now I would say it is that. …These same people who are getting involved in Mothers Out Front, they’re going to go on and be leaders in lots of other ways. So that to me is tremendously exciting.”

Juhie Bhatia is a journalist focused on gender and health issues. Formerly the managing editor of Women’s eNews, she’s written for The Guardian and Rolling Stone.

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