Let’s face it, fossil fuels are failing.
Over the last 18 months, the price of oil has dropped by nearly 70 percent to a recent $32 USD per barrel, and analysts predict further decline. Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, has reported its lowest annual income in over a decade, the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, has reported its smallest quarterly profit in more than a decade, and British Petroleum’s 2015 loss was its biggest ever. This may sour the caviar and foie gras of some but it signals great news for the climate change movement, and progress in this movement equals a host of advantages for the earth and all those who inhabit it. For instance, as oil and gas tycoons scramble to stabilise their bottom line, investors are turning toward alternative forms of energy.
The renewable revolution is happening.
During December 2015’s Paris climate meetings, world leaders agreed to make a path toward a cleaner and safer future. This agreement represents the start of “implementation and action,” and our governments and private sector institutions need to pursue renewable energy and shake off the shackles of fossil fuels swiftly. Here is why renewables are the bombdiggity:
- They are like superheroes
According to Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Climate Change Lead, World Health Organisation,
“Every tonne of carbon that we put into the atmosphere turns up the planet’s thermostat, and increases risks to health. The actions that we need to take to reduce climate change would also help clean up our air and our water, and save lives.”
Like the heroes of Marvel and DC Comics combined, complete energy transformation will save millions of lives.
In Trinidad, only 10 millimeters of rain fell during the month of January 2015, compared to the expected average of 71 millimeters. Currently, Tobago is experiencing what Orville London, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, referred to as a “water crisis.” Two months into 2016’s dry season and the island is under a drought alert, causing major concern for citizens and tourist-related businesses in particular. Furthermore, as climate change worsens, the Caribbean will face sudden, disastrous, and irreversible consequences as it relates to the spread of diseases, as climate change generates geographical shifts in the distribution diseases, posing significant health implications on a global scale.
Decarbonisation in favour of 100 percent renewable energy is a crucial step in the right direction to safeguard our climate, our health, and our lives. Renewable energy will lead to a cleaner, less polluted world which in turn reduces costs for our healthcare systems.
- They will create new, sustainable jobs
Some argue that the fall of the fossil fuel era will see many jobs lost. However, we must consider that compared to the fossil fuel industry, which is becoming increasingly mechanised and capital-intensive, the renewables industry is much more labour-intensive. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (2009) showed that a standard 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 would create in excess of three times as many jobs as producing the same amount of energy from fossil fuels. Forward-looking economies will see the possibility for job creation with each unit of electricity generated from renewable energy than from fossil fuels. Countries with real climate ambition will benefit immensely. The narrative has always shown that we need to choose between jobs and the environment but we are seeing now that fossil fuels are an economic burden and renewables can be translated into strong job creation and security.
- They will strengthen the economy
Renewable energy is good for business. In 2014, developing countries outdid the richest countries in the world, drawing more clean energy investment, and 2015 recorded an astonishing $329.3 billion in investment worldwide. New funds, alliances, investments and projects show that this trend will accelerate in 2016. Countries such as Chile, China, Costa Rica, South Africa, and some Caribbean countries are already benefiting from the investments in clean energy. This should create incentive to remove renewables from the sidelines and line them up to take the penalty kick. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), doubling the world’s current market share of renewable energy to 36 percent by 2030 will lead to a boost of global gross domestic product (GDP) of up to 1.1 percent, putting the “Paris climate goals within reach.”
As more investors let go of big oil, the renewable energy’s market share will skyrocket, and companies all over the world will be forced to own up to the unsustainability of their business models. Only those countries who are engaging in renewable power generation will be influential in the global economy of the near future.
The argument against fossil fuels is never ending; these are just three reasons why renewable energy must win. Only cutting carbon emissions and keeping fossil fuels in the ground will slow the warming of our planet and the massacre it causes. It is our job to remind governments of the decision made in Paris. From now on there must be no mining licenses, drilling of wells, and laying of pipelines. Energy infrastructure, in consonance with pledges to the long term goal to fully decarbonise, must move toward renewable energy. Countries failing to live up to this pledge will be left behind in the story of the global energy transition from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner, healthier renewable energy.