In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 7 aims at ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. Despite a great deal of effort by member nations, translating this goal into reality has been a major challenge. Most countries still rely heavily on fossil fuels and are struggling to adopt clean, renewable energy.
Renewable energy holds the key to the development of most countries. Clean energy has numerous advantages. It is environment friendly, abundant, replenishable or inexhaustible, and allows for better standards of living. Despite this, the overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels continues to be a grave concern. According to reports, in 2019, 84% of primary energy consumption came from fossil fuels. This is a clear indication that renewable energy needs more focus and effort from all the countries of the world. Here is why it must be a top priority –
- Renewable energy defines development – Countries like China, India, and Indonesia have clear developmental goals. These goals are only achievable when we scale up access to energy sources. Most developing countries of the world are looking to explore newer energy sources for industrial needs. This need can only be fulfilled by making clean energy available. In FY 2020 alone seven of the major public sector enterprises in India spent about USD 3 billion on fossil fuel projects. This is clearly not sustainable in the long run.
- Reducing carbon footprint – Environmental damage and air quality have become major concerns for many of the large, populous cities of the world. The switch to clean, renewable energy is the solution to controlling greenhouse emissions and reducing our carbon footprint. A number of countries like India have been providing subsidies and support to renewable energy solutions providers as part of their drive to build smart cities. Up to 40% of the emissions could be curbed by countries that focus on policies supporting renewable energy.
- Cheaper to go clean – One of the strongest arguments that can be made in favour of renewable energy is that it is inexpensive in comparison to fossil fuels. The technology exists and clean energy such as wind, solar, or hybrids may, in fact, be cheaper than traditional fossil fuels. A number of governments are keen on financing utility scale solar projects and providing solar subsidies. This makes it profitable for industries and enterprises to opt for cleaner, renewable sources of energy.
- Key to recovery – Post the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy has experienced a clear slump. Recovery from this slowdown may well depend on opting for renewable sources of energy. According to the United Nations, transition to clean energy can create about 18 million jobs by the year 2030. This also means that investing in renewable energy can create 300% more jobs than by investing in fossil fuels.
Renewable energy is undoubtedly the path ahead. Increasing population and energy needs have made a transition to clean energy imperative rather than optional. Governments across the world must focus on policies that drive renewable energy production and solutions.