On February 5 the power utility of California's capital Sacramento decided to cancel the $1.5 billion Iowa Hill Dam, a pumped storage project in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The decision may not be remarkable by itself, but marks a watershed moment and signals the early beginnings of an exciting development away from large dams.
Support from climate initiatives is one of the reasons why more than 3,700 hydropower dams are currently under construction and in the pipeline. Yet large hydropower projects are a false solution to climate change. They should be kept out from national and international climate initiatives for the following reasons.
Sustainable water and energy development requires public participation in decision making just as much as money and technical expertise. The Nature Conservancy makes a strong case that smart planning needs to address the systems level rather than just individual dams. It now needs to expand its approach and give the rights of affected communities the place they deserve.
If you accept that water is the most valuable commodity on earth, then there is no financial argument against its production at whatever cost. Hopefully the world, regardless of national aspiration, political ideology, and systems of governance, will come to that conclusion in time to assuage our thirst for survival.