A Safer Future with Renewable Energy

A Safer Future with Renewable Energy

Energy is at the heart of the climate problem and is the key to the solution. Most of the greenhouse gases that cover the earth and trap the sun's heat are produced through power generation by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and heat.

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The science is clear: To avoid the worst effects of climate change, emissions need to be cut by almost half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

To achieve this, we must end our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources. Clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable and reliable energy Renewable energy sources in abundance around us, powered by the sun, wind, water, waste and heat from the Earth, are replenished by nature and emit little or no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air .

Fossil fuels still account for more than 80 percent of global energy production, but cleaner energy sources are gaining ground. Currently, about 29 percent of electricity comes from renewable sources.

Here are five reasons why accelerating the transition to clean energy is the path to a healthy, livable planet for today and future generations.

1. Renewable energy sources are all around us

About 80 percent of the global population lives in net fossil fuel importing countries. That's about 6 billion people from other countries who depend on fossil fuels, making them vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises.

In contrast, renewable energy sources are available in all countries and their potential has not yet been fully exploited. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that by 2050 90 percent of the world's electricity can and should come from renewable energy.

Renewables allow countries to diversify their economies and protect them from the unpredictable price fluctuations of fossil fuels, while providing inclusive economic growth, new jobs and poverty reduction, providing a way out of dependency on imports.

2. Renewable energy is cheaper

Renewable energy is actually the cheapest power option in many parts of the world today. Renewable energy technologies prices are falling rapidly. The cost of solar electricity fell 85 percent between 2010 and 2020. Onshore, offshore and wind energy costs fell 56 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

Falling prices are making renewable energy more attractive everywhere, including in low- and middle-income countries, where most of the additional demand for new electricity will come. With falling costs, there is a real opportunity for most new power sources to come from low-carbon sources in the coming years.

Cheap electricity from renewable sources could provide 65 percent of the world's total electricity supply by 2030. It could decarbonize 90 percent of the energy sector by 2050, drastically reduce carbon emissions and help mitigate climate change.

Although solar and wind costs are expected to remain higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and 2023 due to generally rising commodity and freight prices, their competitiveness has actually increased due to much sharper increases in gas and coal prices (IEA).

3. Renewable energy is healthier

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 99 percent of people in the world breathe air that exceeds air quality limits and threatens their health, and more than 13 million deaths worldwide each year are due to preventable environmental causes, including air pollution.

Unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. In 2018, air pollution from fossil fuels resulted in $2.9 trillion in health and economic costs, about $8 billion a day.

Switching to clean energy sources such as wind and sun therefore helps address not only climate change but also air pollution and health.

4. Renewable energy creates jobs

Every $1 invested in renewables creates three times more jobs than the fossil fuel industry. The IEA estimates that the transition to net zero emissions will result in an overall increase in energy sector jobs: By 2030, around 5 million jobs could be lost in fossil fuel production, while an estimated 14 million new jobs will be created in clean energy, resulting in net gains of 9 million.

In addition, energy-related industries will need another 16 million workers to take on new roles, for example in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hyper-efficient devices, or in innovative technologies such as hydrogen. This means that by 2030, a total of more than 30 million jobs could be created in clean energy, efficiency and low-emission technologies.

Ensuring a just transition will be crucial to placing people's needs and rights at the center of the energy transition, ensuring that no one is left behind.

5. Renewable energy is economical

About $5.9 trillion was spent subsidizing the fossil fuel industry in 2020, including explicit subsidies, tax breaks, and health and environmental damage not included in the cost of fossil fuels.

By contrast, around $4 trillion a year will need to be invested in renewable energy by 2030, including technology and infrastructure investments, to ensure we achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

For many countries with limited resources, the upfront cost can be daunting and many will need financial and technical support to make the transition happen. But investments in renewable energy will pay off. Reducing pollution and climate impacts alone could save the world up to $4.2 trillion a year by 2030.

In addition, efficient, reliable renewable technologies can create a system less prone to market shocks and improve flexibility and energy security by diversifying power supply options.

You can also read our articles titled “What is Renewable Energy?” and “Renewable Energy in Turkey”.

 Source: Renewable energy –powering a safer future

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