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Clearing the Air, Creating Jobs, and CHERP

As millions of people around the world shifted their lives indoors, the skies cleared and the air seemed lighter. From Los Angeles to New Delhi, a decline in carbon emissions resulted in views unencumbered by smog. As shutdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and limited movement of people and goods alike continues, researchers expect more carbon emission declines through the end of 2020.

The science about COVID-19 and climate change remains mixed, however, with growing concerns about spikes in consumption as people return to work, school, and play. The immediate consequences of shortened supply lines, fewer commutes, and industrial slowdowns offer hope as to how collective action can mitigate climate threats.

These small gains have not stopped climate change - and can quickly be undone. The United Nations has even cautioned about what it terms, “short-term good news” in the continued climate change crisis.

Alongside attention paid to climate change, drops in employment -- with as many as 195 million global jobs lost as a result of COVID-19 -- the resulting global economic crisis, and a renewed fervor in the racial justice movement, have added to the complexities when making decisions for where we go from here. The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in infrastructure and institutional supports alike.

Continued vigilance and attention as to how humans interact with the environment coexists with enthusiasm to reopen the economy - safely. This has prompted new conversations about how to traverse the path forward.

To recover from COVID-19 and to take on, “the looming existential threat of climate disruption,” United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres has issued a call for, “brave, visionary, and collaborative leadership.” Within this framework, CHERP continues to provide an option that lowers carbon emissions, increases jobs, and stimulates local economies.

As CHERP moves ahead in opening its first nonprofit solar panel factory in Pomona, California, we look forward to providing new jobs and revenue to the local community. Opportunities to provide much-needed economic stimuli and be a part of the global economic recovery similarly coincide with hopes for continued carbon mitigation.

With an upturn in renewable energy in the United States, CHERP meets the growing demand for efficient, affordable alternatives to coal. As CHERP installs locally manufactured solar panel systems on thousands of homes, we further efforts to mitigate carbon emissions while simultaneously shortening supply chains.

Solar panels made at CHERP’s Pomona factory will remove nearly 27,000 metric tons of carbon from the environment each year. As a point of reference, researchers have found that average daily emissions in April 2020 decreased by 17% from the previous year, or roughly 18.7 million metric tons. While collective action and government intervention are required for large scale reductions, CHERP holds strong as part of the solution on a local and regional level.

The first CHERP factory, slated to open in late 2020, will provide more than 760 direct and indirect jobs over the subsequent 36 months. Over 200 individuals will assemble and install our solar panel and retrofit residences to maximize energy efficiency. Of the remaining 500-plus indirect positions, more than 20% will have a permanent place within the local community.

CHERP’s initial factory is only the beginning. As talks continue with political and community leaders in Victorville and San Bernardino, California, CHERP plans to make the cycle of carbon mitigation, environmental justice, job creation, and economic stimulation -- rather than the current wasteful and unjust cycles that are degrading our environment and economy -- the norm.


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