Sustainable Future: Renewable Sources Of Energy Are The Way Forward To Fight Climate Change
A large number of the UNSDGs focus on betterment of individual and collective human lives. They emphasise on empowering individuals and equalising the imbalances in the way our civilisations are structured. While these are important, it is also imperative to look at the impact of humankind on the natural environment that houses us. Climate change is an alarming global phenomenon, and its impact is felt on daily lives. UNSDGs have also taken this into account, and listed out goals that are essential for peaceful cohabitation with nature.
Energy from renewable sources such as bio-mass, solar, water and wind is inexhaustible; and is produced in a cleaner manner (with little to none hazardous by-products) compared to traditional sources such as coal. Thus, the need to make the shift to predominant use and availability of (1.) Affordable and clean energy.
Rising Sea-levels and extreme weather conditions are leading to increased natural disasters, that cause death and destruction. Rising global average temperatures pose a serious threat to our survival, leading UNSDGs to focus on (2.) Climate Action.
Oceans contribute to 97% of the earth’s surface and are home to millions of species. These contribute by keeping our ecological system in balance. Oceans also absorb Co2, equalise the temperature and provide us with food. Similarly, the forest covers provide us with much needed oxygen, while also regulating the temperature. Dumping of toxic wastes into oceans, indiscriminate fishing, depleting the forest cover for commercial purposes and hunting animals for sport has caused serious ecological damage, and protecting (3.) Life on water and (4.) Life on land are important goals listed in the UNSDGs.
While conserving the life on land and in water, we cannot overlook the growing needs of the growing population, hence the need for (5.) Sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Why are these goals important?
Nearly 20 per cent of the Indian population does not have access to electricity, yet the power sector is responsible for the pollution rise in the country. India has some of the most polluted cities in the world, posing a serious concern to health and wellness. India is the 3rd highest emitter of the pollutant CO2, with 6.9% of the total emissions of the world.
Air pollution was found to be the cause of about 12 lakh deaths in India in 2017.
We are also one of the leading perpetrators of marine pollution. This is alarming because the sea-level rises by approximately 1.33mts per year, and about 35% of our population lives on the coastline. Deforestation has an even harsher effect, with agriculture being a primary source of livelihood, and degraded land cover costing us a loss of about 1.3% of the country’s GDP.
One of the major causes of pollution is urban waste, out of which only a mere 15% is processed. Irresponsible consumption causes pollution and inadequacy for others. It is estimated that with better production and consumption, India could save about 500 billion units of energy every year.
What measures have been taken?
Pushing the use of clean fuels through the national policy on biofuels, and the national clean energy fund are strong initiatives taken by the government. The highest ever alternate energy capacity generation in India was achieved in 2017. The National Solar mission aims to push solar energy, especially in rural areas.
India is also emphasising afforestation, and conservation of wildlife by protecting endangered animals. The initiation of the blue revolution is working towards modernizing ports and coastlines, while minimising the damage to water bodies and aquatic life. The 'Swacch Bharat Abhiyan' is also championing the cause of not polluting land and water bodies. Local bodies and individuals are also contributing greatly by cleaning beaches and roads in their vicinity.
What can you do?
Every individual leaves a carbon footprint that indicates the amount of carbon dioxide that they release in the atmosphere. This contributes to pollution, and it is determined by activities such as using a vehicle that emits harmful gasses, using more electricity than required, and using plastic and other non-degradable materials.
Conserve electricity, use non-recyclable materials judicially, avoid wasting unrequired water in baths. If you have the option, install solar panels in your premises. Try to walk short distances, it is better for the health and the environment.
Avoid polluting the environment and the water bodies at all costs. The best method of disposing garbage is in segregated- recyclable and non-recyclable bags. Do not litter the streets and discourage others around from doing the same.
An alarming study by the UN suggests that at the current population growth level, if we continue having the same lifestyles, by 2050 we would need three planets to sustain the population. Also, mass displacement of human settlement owing to weather changes, conflicts and prejudices places a higher burden on certain areas of the planet. As a result, quality of life goes down, and there is a higher drain on the natural resources.
The UNSDGs are formulated as guidelines for all nations, but it is the duty of every individual to help achieve them. We share a planet, and it is our responsibility to make in habitable and hospitable. Any degradation in the environment or imbalances in society have a direct bearing on the lives of every person and their future generations.
The UNSDGs are ambitious goals, with many parameters. Incorporating small but noticeable changes in daily lives would help contribute to the whole in a highly impactful manner.