The time when Climate change has become a matter of serious concern, with ocean level rising and percentage of poisonous gases increasing day-by-day, it is surprisingly the Covid which has put a hold on global carbon emissions and shone some light on renewables as an alternative to fossil fuel. For a long now, green energy has been on the table when it comes to discuss climate change, but no significant step was taken so far, until 2020, the Covid year, when world leaders started considering climate change as a real thing and actually came up with some reasonable plans and actions. This becomes convincing when International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report, stating “Renewables accounted for almost 90% of the increase in total power capacity worldwide in 2020 and will accelerate in 2021 to their fastest growth in the last six years.”
According to IEA’s report, new additions of renewable power capacity worldwide will increase to a record level of almost 200 GW in 2020. This rise is mainly led by- wind, hydropower and solar PV. Wind and solar additions are set to jump by 30% in both US and China as developers rush to take advantage of expiring incentives.
There are positives for India too. As per the report, India and European Union will be the driving forces behind a record expansion of global renewable capacity additions of nearly 10% next year- the fastest growth since 2015. In 2020 itself, India saw an increase in its renewable capacity from 23.39% (February) to 38% in March. It currently has an installed capacity of 136 GW and aims to double it by 2027. With a rise in global ranking for renewable energy capacity from 5th to 4th position, Indian leaders have shown a dedicated commitment towards sustainable energy.
Talking globally, there are countries like Iceland, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Norway who are at, or very nearly 100 percent renewable power. In addition, countries like, Sweden, Brazil, Denmark have come a long path to become renewable sufficient and in near future will attain 100% renewable sufficiency. These countries have shown the world leaders to take urgency in this matter by keeping climate change at the top of their priority list and start working on solutions.
The harmful effects of fossil fuel-generated power is not alien to anyone. These effects include land degradation, water pollution, air pollution, harmful emissions which eventually become the major cause in global warming and health deterioration. Ocean acidification is also one of the serious concerns for environmentalist. But, these reflect only the one face of coin. It becomes more alarming when we talk about on-site accidents and death of miners and laborers engaged in extracting these fossil fuels. No safety precautions are taken to prevent such accidents and roof-collapsing casualty are reported frequently. In addition to job site accidents, these mining can lead to chronic health disorders such as pneumoconiosis (Black lung disease) which have led to thousands of deaths so far. China accounts for more than 80% coal-mining fatalities and is also the world’s biggest producer, importer and consumer of coal. India too reported more than 377 deaths of workers involved in mining of coal, minerals and oil between 2015 and 2017. These really are upsetting numbers.
But there is good news too. Demand for coal (the single largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions) fell by 5% in 2020-the largest decline since World War-II. In addition, a decrease of 9% in global oil demand was observed in 2020.
These decline would have no significance if there is not a change in stance of global leaders on this emergency. It is them who take decisions in closed rooms and the whole world has to suffer. These table-talkers should learn from the ongoing efforts of countries who have went completely renewable and under-developed countries like India who induce a ray of hope for human civilization. Emphasis should be laid on installation of wind, hydro and solar plants in efficient locations of countries. Most importantly, it is the sole duty of individuals to aware themselves and educate those who aren’t, in order to prevent the mother earth from dire consequences of climate change.