The Role of Social Enterprise in Renewable Energy Production
Natural resources – water, energy and fertile soil – are fundamental to our life on earth. Many environmentalists – for example, Tim Jackson1 – believe that at the heart of the environmental crisis we are experiencing, and which is manifesting itself in so many ways, lies over-consumption of the earth’s resources. In 2009, for example, it was estimated that humans were extracting and using in excess of 50% more natural resources than was the case thirty years previously.2
This level of consumption is leading to deforestation, species extinction at an alarming rate, shrinking of our natural water resources and climate change. In order for people in both developed and developing countries to live fulfilled lives, there is need to reduce over-consumption wherever it occurs and, in essence, to live more sustainably. Failure to do so will lead to increased pressure being exerted on ecosystems and may ultimately result in large swathes of the earth becoming uninhabitable.3
In his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis documents the relationship between environmental degradation and global inequality.4 He speaks of the requirement to replace the culture of consumption with a more humane and ecological model of economic development which meets all of humanity’s essential needs.
This article asserts that social enterprise can play an important role in addressing many aspects of the environmental crisis. The particular focus of the article is the contribution which social enterprise can make towards combating climate change through the development of renewable energy projects.