In 2021, new highs were recorded for four of the most important climate change indicators: greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat, and ocean acidity. This proves that human actions are altering the face of the Earth’s land, sea, and air in profound ways that will have lasting effects for generations.
Ending our use of fossil fuels as a primary energy source will be crucial in resolving this crisis.
As UN Secretary-General António Guterres puts it, “the good news is that the lifeline is right in front of us,” highlighting the fact that renewable energy sources like wind and solar already exist and are, in most circumstances, cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels. We must immediately and rapidly put them to use on a massive basis.
Since “without renewables, there can be no future,” the UN Secretary-General has outlined five urgent steps that the international community must take immediately to overhaul our energy infrastructure and hasten the transition to renewable power sources.
Make clean energy technologies a worldwide necessity.
It is crucial to eliminate impediments to knowledge sharing and technological transfer, such as intellectual property rights barriers, if renewable energy technology becomes a worldwide public good available to all, not just the wealthy.
Technology advancements, like battery storage systems, have made it possible to store and release energy generated from renewable sources like solar and wind when needed. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, their ability to rapidly absorb, store, and re-inject electricity helps to boost energy system flexibility.
Furthermore, battery storage technologies can offer reliable and inexpensive electricity in isolated grids and off-grid populations in remote regions when partnered with renewable sources.
Boost availability of materials and parts around the world.
Consistent access to raw materials and components for renewable energy sources is crucial. It will be essential to improve accessibility to all the necessary parts and resources, such as the metals used to construct wind turbines and electrical grids and the plastics and rubbers required to build electric vehicles.
Increasing and diversifying the world’s manufacturing capacity will require substantial international cooperation. Additionally, increased expenditures are necessary to guarantee a fair transition, including those made in people’s skill development, research, and innovation, and incentives to construct supply chains through environmentally and culturally responsible means.
Bring renewable energy technologies up to par.
Even if international cooperation and coordination are essential, domestic policy frameworks must be altered immediately to facilitate renewable energy projects and stimulate private sector investments.
The technology, capacity, and funding are already in place to transition to renewable energy. Still, policies and processes need to be in place to mitigate market risk and enable and incentivize investments. This includes streamlining the planning, permitting, and regulatory procedures to prevent bottlenecks and red tape. Setting aside land in designated Renewable Energy Zones could facilitate such expansive development.
Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, are the country-specific climate action plans that aim to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. To achieve the 1.5C goal, NDCs must establish renewable energy targets that increase the share of renewables in global electricity generation from 29% to 60% by 2030.
Improving the penetration of wind and solar energy technologies requires well-defined and enforced laws, open and accountable procedures, widespread support, and advanced energy transmission infrastructure.