The Economic and Social arguments for Renewable Energy

REthinking Energy, a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has stated that an increase in the adoption of renewable energy technologies is the most feasible method in reducing carbon emissions and avoiding potentially catastrophic climate change.

The report concentrates on the global power sector and how technological advances, economic growth, and climate change are altering it. Also it draws on global research from the agency whilst reviewing progress in the transition to a sustainable energy future.

“A convergence of social, economic and environmental forces are transforming the global energy system as we know it. But if we continue on the path we are currently on and fuel our growing economies with outmoded ways of thinking and acting, we will not be able avoid the most serious impacts of climate change,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin, at the launch of the publication in Abu Dhabi.

Electricity demand is expected to more than double by 2030 as the global population is projected to reach 8 billion and many people move to a more energy dependent way of life. The burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity accounts for more than 40% of man-made CO2 emissions and as demand for electricity increases this will continue to increase.

“The good news is that renewable energy provides a viable and affordable solution to address climate change today,” Mr Amin added. “And while the outlook for renewable power is bright, we need to rethink the mechanisms which have, up to this point, brought renewables into the mainstream and prepare for the next stage of this global transformation.”

However demand is also changing as individuals and private and public institutions alike seek a cleaner, more diverse energy mix and renewable energy is seen as long term solution to this new energy requirement.

Renewable Energy sources including bioenergy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy are proven in producing energy with up to 250 times less carbon emissions than coal and 120 time less than natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels.

All of this is great news as the latest Eurobarometer survey on the environment has shown no indication that Europeans’ concern about environmental issues has diminished in the three years since the survey was previously compiled.

The poll found that the majority of those surveyed share the view that the efficient use of natural resources (79%) and the protection of the environment (74%) can boost economic growth. While 80% consider that the economy influences their quality of life, 75% think the state of the environment has a similar impact and 77% of EU citizens believe that environmental problems have a direct effect on their daily lives.  They worry most about pollution as well as waste generation and the depletion of natural resources.

59 % believe that social and environmental factors should be as important as economic criteria in measuring progress in their country. In relation to the spending and investment of public authorities, 59% are of the opinion that the public authorities of their country should favour environmentally-friendly considerations over cost.

75% say they are ready to buy environmentally-friendly products, even if it means paying a little more. 93% think that big polluters should make good the environmental damage they cause, introducing heavier fines for offenders was deemed the most effective way of tackling environmental problems.

85% of Europeans believe they have a role to play in protecting the environment. Most are adopting environmentally-friendly actions and behaviour. Separation of waste for recycling (72%), cutting down energy consumption (52%) and cutting down water consumption (37%) were the three most common activities.

77% feel that big companies and industry are not doing enough to protect the environment; 70% think the same of their national government. 65% believe that citizens themselves could do more.

77% of EU citizens agree that European environmental legislation is necessary to protect the environment in their country and six out of ten think that environmental decisions should be taken jointly within the EU. 79% also think that the EU should be able to check that environmental laws are being applied correctly in their country. 84% want more EU funding to be allocated to supporting environmentally-friendly activities. In addition 56% want the EU to do even more to protect the environment.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “It is good to see such solid and widespread support for the protection of the environment, even in difficult times. People are particularly concerned about air and water pollution, chemicals and waste, and they feel that more must be done by everyone to protect the environment.”

As global energy demand continues to increase the desire of the people of Europe for it to come from clean renewable sources reflects the overall mood that the long term security of environment is of the utmost importance. Also at time when the relatively weak position of the world economy is meaning that many are seeing a reduction or stagnation in income they understand that the costs associated with changing their energy systems is a worthwhile long term investment.

The progress we have made already in producing new renewable energy solutions and sustaining the output is an achievement we can look upon with satisfaction. However with confidence in the industry from the public at an all-time high we must take this opportunity, push on and improve upon what we have already accomplished.  We are confident that if we continue to show the application and dedication we are capable of we can achieve our goal of producing 100% of our energy requirements from renewable sources and at the same time safeguard our environment for generations to come.

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