Seventh in Bare Necessities- Zero Waste India’s series on SDGs in relation to zero waste, circular economy methodology and sustainability is Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy.
The amount of waste in the environment that is caused due to burning fossil fuels to create energy is a truly global issue, with the “handling and disposal of (fossil fuel) waste result(ing) in costly environmental and community health challenges” (source). “Fossil fuels are rock-like, gas, or liquid resources that are burned to generate power. They include coal, natural gas, and oil, and are used as an energy source in the electricity and transportation sectors. They’re also a leading source of the world’s global warming pollution” (source). Noted in a report from 2017 (source) there is a minimum of 29 countries who source more than 90% of their energy source from fossil fuels. Notably, “global dependence on fossil fuels has dropped relative to the total energy used since 1971, and the trend is likely to continue as nations convert to greater utilisation of renewable resources for energy” (source).
This form of waste is all-pervasive affecting every person in society no matter where they are standing. Fortunately, the move away from fossil fuel use holds as much benefit as the alternative holds disaster. Implementing new sustainable systems that reduce the amount of waste- renewable energy-based systems- can help mitigate the negative effects currently felt due to waste produced through the use of fossil fuels. “Renewable energy is energy produced from sources that do not deplete or can be replenished within a human’s lifetime… (such as) wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower” (source).
Positively, the World Economic Forum recently noted that India, a country with a high dependence on fossil fuels, now produces the cheapest solar power in the world. Cheaper solar panels in India and further abroad have helped to make clean energy more affordable and therefore wean humanity away from the use of fossil fuels. Solar energy output increased by 24% last year, globally, with the majority of demand coming from Asian countries such as China, Japan and India along with countries such as the USA, Australia and Germany. Similarly, to the more affordable solar panels, larger and more efficient turbines for wind energy has increased demand for forms of technologies that do not produce waste in the manner of fossil fuels.
The transition to clean energy is pivotal for our long term sustainability, using available methods that produce limited to no waste means that the new technologies are steadily becoming more affordable at the same time as the ‘hidden costs’ of the waste from fossil fuel is known to a greater degree. Ensuring that this type of clean energy is available and affordable to consumers worldwide, as more and more people’s livelihoods improve into this century, will be a key in eliminating the use of fossil fuels into our future.