Friday, May 17, 2019

Clean Energy is Essential for More than Just Climate Action

Clean energy is a necessary part of efforts to address the climate crisis and if implemented at scale, renewables would favorably impact far more than just the environment.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) from fossil fuel based energy sources are contributing to planetary warming and driving the climate crisis. We have just surpassed 415 ppm of atmospheric carbon for the first time in human history. We urgently need solutions and making the transition to clean energy would afford substantial GHG reductions.

A 2018 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said the rapid deployment of renewables, combined with greater energy efficiency, could achieve 90% of energy sector emission reductions required by the Paris Climate agreement. This would mean that by 2050 clean energy would have to provide 66% of the world’s energy consumption and 80% of its power generation. We have a long way to go to get to these kind of numbers, but we know what we have to do and we know that it is viable.

Erik Solheim, the former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme is among the thousands of authorities that argue the merits of clean energy. "A global transition to renewable energy technologies like solar and wind are also key ingredients of delivering on the Paris Agreement, keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C and avoiding catastrophic climate change," Solheim said in a press release.

As a leading source of GHGs dirty energy is a necessary focal point. The awareness that we must end fossil fuel use is not new, in fact the industry knew this more than 40 years ago. Two recent studies confirm that if we stop using fossil fuels we could keep temperatures below the upper threshold limit of 1.5 C. 

We understand the problem and we have a viable solution. Those who equivocate on the issue of energy are like those who question the veracity of climate change.  We cannot waste time trying to convince the willfully ignorant and those who are motivated by something other than reason. These people will not be swayed by facts. We are in the midst of the 6th great extinction and we have a little more than a decade to keep the planet from surpassing the upper threshold temperature limit.

The multifarious benefits of clean energy make a compelling case for anyone who is open to the facts. A 2015 IRENA report explains how renewable energy contributes to SDG goals. The report is the second edition of the REthinking Energy – Renewable Energy and Climate, a series outlining progress in the transition to a sustainable energy future. In addition to being a major part of climate action and sustainable communities, renewables support good health, well being, clean water and sanitation.  According to the report they also reduce poverty, contribute to gender equality, improve education, and decrease hunger.

The IRENA report also makes a business case for renewables pointing to advances in innovation and enhanced infrastructure.  This is a solution that offers a trifecta of benefits. It is a powerful method of combating both climate change and air pollution. It also is an economic boon that offers both cheap energy and good jobs. The economic case for climate action is irrefutable as is the moral case. The overwhelming logic of action over inaction is undeniable. Dozens of independent studies demonstrate that the range of economic benefits associated with a low carbon world.

Despite being popular fossil fuels still eclipse renewables by a huge margin. The US gets 63.5% of its energy from fossil fuels even though 83% of Americans support clean energy.  The transition away from fossil fuels is a popular idea that protects human health and conserves biodiversity. The alternative is to maintain our current energy trajectory and imperil civilization as we know it.

The call to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy is about more than holding the bad actors accountable or confronting the failures of our political leaderships. This is about survival.

It is time to move on to the next stage of energy production. It is time to demand that our political leaders embrace clean energy solutions.

Related
The Ongoing Prodigious Growth of Renewables
MENA's Renewable Energy Leadership
The Transition Away from Fossil Fuels to Renewables is Well Underway
Clean Energy from Renewable Sources is the Answer but Government Policies are a Problem
The Dream of 100 Percent Renewable Energy is Alive and Well 
The World's Poor are Hurt Not Helped by Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Fossil Fuel Industry Pays Legislators to Protect their Subsidies
What Would Happen if Fossil Fuel Subsidies were Redirected Towards Renewable Energy?
Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies is a Crucial First Step

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