Sustainable Energy Around the Globe
During times such as these, where we are forced to quarantine at home due to a COVID-19 pandemic, we rely on electronics, ventilation, and water more than ever. Need to cook? Light up the stove. Want to spend time with friends and family? Call them using your phone. Are you cold? Well, ask “Alexa” to turn up the heater. Especially now more than ever, we blatantly assume that everyone has access to these facilities. But if we were to open our blinds and glimpse beyond our constrained bubble of reality, we would realize the truth, that many people around the world do not have the comforts listed above. According to The World Bank, almost 3 billion people, as of 2017, remain without access to clean cooking, and 900 million people do not have access to electricity. The majority of the people without access to electricity or clean cooking reside in the region of sub-Saharan Africa. Ironically, the same countries in this region contribute to the most amount of pollution and produce the most oil. So, with the growing amount of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere and many people left in the dust without energy, we are forced to ask the question, how can the lack of sustainable energy around the world be solved? The answer is simple: the outlined solution must be a double-edged sword, addressing the need to decrease pollution and yet grant more people the necessities of electricity and clean cooking. First, I will be elaborating on the intricate nature of the lack of this problem and then, I will outline a plan on how countries should combat this deficit. Finally, I am going to address how you can help combat this problem to “green the globe”.
Many places around the world suffer due to a lack of sustainable energy, which results in a surplus amount of pollution. According to a study published by the International Energy Agency, coal still provides “up to 40% of electricity generation”, making this source of conventional energy almost irreplaceable. The region of sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, relies heavily on fossil fuels for energy, with countries such as Nigeria exporting about “2.2 million barrels of oil per day”, which accounts for 69% of the country’s economic revenue (Nigeria Central Bank). This heavy reliance on fossil fuels can increase pollution around the world, contributing to the ever-pressing problem of climate change, and leave many people in poor countries without sustainable energy. According to the OECD, electricity only reaches half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa, while clean cooking only reaches a third. This shows that the solution to the lack of sustainable energy will need to be a double-edged sword: first, it will need to decrease the reliance of fossil fuels, and second, the solution should address the many people in sub-Saharan living without access to any source of energy.
The issue of the lack of sustainable energy in sub-Saharan Africa is best addressed by the Sustainable Development Goal #7, which advocates for affordable and clean energy around the world. This SDG, outlined by the United Nations, applies to the selected issue above, for it addresses how more people can gain access to electricity while limiting pollution. According to a report published by the United Nations, SDG #7 advocates for “affordable, reliable and modern energy for all” while still “offsetting carbon dioxide emissions”.
To solve the ever-pressing problem of pollution and yet allow everyone to gain access to energy, a country must drastically decrease their consumption of fossil fuels and resort to renewable energy sources appropriate for the respective region. For example, the region of Sub-Saharan Africa can resort to solar panels to generate electricity from light rather than fossil fuels. As per Our World, “solar energy will lead the growth in renewables in the region”, adding “1.8 gigawatts of renewable energy” by the year 2040, which generates much more electricity than synthesizing oil. The article further elaborates that renewable energy can contribute to “Africa’s growing energy economy”, with more than a “$450 billion investment in the region’s power sector”. However, the issue of energy sustainability is still far from solved, for many people living in this region still suffer from a lack of electricity, with only 50 percent having access to this precious resource (IEA). To effectively solve the issue of pollution without ignoring many living without clean energy, political and industrial leaders of countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa must “cast down their oil buckets” to resolve the problems presented by pollution, maintain a growing economy, and ensure that the interests of the people are fulfilled.
Ultimately, the issue of sustainable energy can only be solved with the help of people like us. That’s right, you don’t need to be a state legislator, national president, or business leader to resolve this issue. Turning off the lights during daylight, decreasing water consumption, and traveling efficiently on the car are all actions you can take to decrease the world’s energy consumption. In fact, a carbon footprint calculator presented by nature.org shows that the average household emits 68 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which amounts to 10 billion tons of greenhouse gases every year. But, by following the prescribed actions above, the world’s carbon footprint, which is an accurate indicator of energy consumption, can decrease by 3 billion tons. This means that the remaining energy can be appropriated to developing countries such as India, Ethiopia, and Kenya, thereby decreasing the economic divide and improving the lives of many internationally. Even a small tree can result in a vast forest, so let us all plant the seeds to combat the disease of pollution and lack of energy sustainability.
We humans are capable of doing wonders; we ventured into space and landed a man on the moon. However, if we do not apply our potential to solve the lack of sustainable energy, we might all have to move to the moon. In an effort to “green the globe”, we must approach the solution to energy sustainability as a double-edged sword: pollution must be decreased while still appropriating more people around the world with clean energy. Even though we may assume that luxuries such as ventilation, electricity, and heat are omnipresent, let us all work together to extend our bubble of reality to the entire world.
- Access to Energy Is at the Heart of Development. 2018, www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2018/04/18/access-energy-sustainable-development-goal-7.
- Corfee-Morlot, Jan, et al. “Achieving Clean Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa.” OECD, www.oecd.org/environment/cc/climate-futures/Achieving-clean-energy-access-Sub-Saharan-Africa.pdf.
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- Iea. “Africa Energy Outlook 2019 – Analysis.” IEA, 8 Nov. 2019, www.iea.org/reports/africa-energy-outlook-2019.
- Kariuki, Dorcas. Barriers to Renewable Energy Technologies Development. 15 Mar. 2018, www.energytoday.net/economics-policy/barriers-renewable-energy-technologies-development/.
- Mourdoukoutas, Elini. “Africa’s Bumpy Road to Sustainable Energy | Africa Renewal.” United Nations, United Nations, 2020, www.un.org/africarenewal/web-features/africa%E2%80%99s-bumpy-road-sustainable-energy.
- United Nations Statistics Division. “Goal 7: Ensure Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy for All – SDG Indicators.” United Nations, United Nations, 2020, unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2018/Goal-07/.
- Valentine, Katie. “Renewable Energy in Africa Is Set to Surge by 2040, IEA Says.” Our World, UNUniversity, 2014, ourworld.unu.edu/en/renewable-energy-in-africa-is-set-to-surge-by-2040-iea-says.
- “What Is Your Carbon Footprint?” The Nature Conservancy, 2020, www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/?redirect=https-301.