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Cooke: Investing in clean energy is investing in students’ futures

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Normally, stocks and the world of business don’t occupy much of my time. I’m usually more concerned about climate change and the real-world consequences of it. Take, for example, this year’s 27th named storm, the deadly Hurricane Zeta, which was the fifth named storm to make landfall in Louisiana this season alone.

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Recently, however, I’ve come to understand an important overlap between the world of economics and the climate crisis. That overlap occurs at investment opportunities in renewable energy.

Investing in renewable energy is one of the most crucially needed and immediately accessible steps we can take toward addressing climate change. Students at Colorado State University, if they are financially able to, should seriously consider investing whatever they can in the stocks of clean energy companies.

I’ll be the first to say that this is by no means the most comprehensive measure we can take to confront the climate crisis. More federal policies, such as Joe Biden’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, are badly needed.

But if (hopefully, when) such a plan is enacted, our economy and our energy sector will need to quickly and effectively transition away from fossil fuels. For this to happen, a robust, well-developed and well-funded sector of renewable energy will need to take its place.

Matthew DiLallo, a writer for The Motley Fool, says that renewable energy “has the potential to be a major wealth creator” for investors. He also claims that more investment is needed if the clean energy sector is to develop as fast as the climate needs it to, “which is both a challenge and an opportunity.”

“Investing in renewable energy is one of the most crucially needed and immediately accessible steps we can take toward addressing climate change.”

The challenge, in this case, can be overcome by the opportunity. These companies need all the funding they can get. Investing our money in them now can simultaneously give them the funding they need to succeed while enhancing the potential for our investments to grow into a profit.

Luckily, investing in the stock market has never been easier. My roommate introduced me to the free app Robinhood, an easily navigable medium through which anyone with a bank account can invest in stocks.

Robinhood is ideal for people like me who are inexperienced in investing. You just need to link a bank account to the app, and the rest is pretty straightforward. Robinhood’s website says they are “on a mission to democratize finance for all.”

This makes it easy for people who are unfamiliar with the world of business and finance to put money toward a better tomorrow. Investing in companies like Tesla that will literally power our future could also be a potential way to earn some money in return.

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Granted, investing money in the stock market is probably not at the top of students’ to-do lists. Many of us are probably more occupied with things like school, work, friends and whatever bills we have to pay.

But our immediate priorities should not blind us to the things that will define our future, especially something as fundamental as sustainable energy. Also, investment doesn’t have to be heavy. I only bought $10 of Tesla stock when I first downloaded Robinhood.

Students can put whatever they are comfortable with toward clean energy stocks and know that they’ve played a small yet crucial role in the world’s transition to sustainability. 

solar panel
The Colorado State University Recreation Center has solar panels out front as well as all over the roof, which is a small portion of CSU’s overall sustainability efforts, Nov. 16. (Addie Kuettner | The Collegian)

Marketing major Trent Sabin of McNeese State University says that clean energy stocks are “obviously the future and (have) a huge amount of growth potential,” adding that he owns shares in a few solar companies himself.

Sabin encourages students looking to “become financially comfortable” in the future to invest in “companies that are going to be around 10, 20, 30 years from now that will continue to grow and become powerhouses within the economy.”

A joint report published by the International Energy Agency and the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment has two important takeaways: renewable power is offering “investors higher total returns relative to fossil fuels,” and “investments in clean energy are still falling short of the level needed to put the world’s energy system on a sustainable path.”

In other words, investing in clean energy now is likely a smart move, and it’s necessary for advancing the development of technology that will replace unsustainable fossil fuels. Students who have the ability to invest should see this as a kind of insurance policy for our entire generation.

The investment banking company JPMorgan also sees clean energy investment as a good idea. Its analysis, which considers the upcoming presidential election with its two candidates offering drastically different agendas on climate and energy, suggests that, regardless of who wins the election, growth for the alternative energy sector is still anticipated. It cites the success of renewables despite President Donald Trump’s fossil fuel-friendly policies

All of this testimony keeps leading back to a theme of future security. Trying to understand and potentially invest money in something as dynamic and complex as global energy infrastructures should naturally make us apprehensive, but this is precisely where our future lies.

Of course, caution should always be exercised when dealing with the stock market. Don’t go and throw thousands of dollars into just any clean energy company. Do your research first, and start small with your investments.

Students at CSU should see this opportunity for what it truly is: an investment in our future.

Cody Cooke can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CodyCooke17.

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About the Contributor
Cody Cooke
Cody Cooke, Opinion Director
Cody Cooke is the director of the opinion desk for The Collegian and has worked for the newspaper since December 2019. He is a senior studying English and history with a concentration in creative writing. Cooke joined the opinion desk as a consistent way to sharpen his writing and to get involved with other student writers. He began as a columnist and remained a regular writer for more than a year before moving into his director position. He sees opinion writing as a rich and important combination of argumentation and journalism — a way to present facts that goes beyond objective reporting and makes a point. He also sees it as one of the most accessible platforms for any writer to start building a career. Working at The Collegian has taught him to be accountable and responsible for his own work while being proud of creating something worth sharing to a large audience. While not always easy, Cooke's time at The Collegian has been one of the most constructive and satisfying experiences of his collegiate career. 

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