Using clean energy that comes from natural sources is one of the most important things you can do to help the environment. Electricity production is the number one source of greenhouse gases, more than all of our driving and flying combined. Clean energy also reduces harmful smog, toxic buildups in our air and water, and the effects of coal mining and gas extraction. This is a problem on a global scale as well as a local environmental justice issue because the use and extraction of fossil fuels pollute the air and water in a way that hurts poor communities more than other communities. But it will take time to replace our infrastructure based on fossil fuels. We will also need strong, consistent support from both the state and federal governments in the form of mandates to build renewable energy generation and consumer and business demand for clean energy.
In addition, the fact that they are local and not centralized, and that technology is improving, are both big benefits for the economy and the people.
- Greenhouse gases are released by fossil fuels. That will help the environment. When fossil fuels are burned for energy, a lot of greenhouse gases are released into the air. These gases contribute to global warming. Even when the full life cycle of the technologies is taken into account, most sources of renewable energy produce few or no emissions.
- Renewable energy doesn’t pollute the air much or at all. That’s healthier for us. Increases in fossil fuel-based road transportation, industry, and power generation, as well as the open burning of trash in many cities, all contribute to higher levels of air pollution around the world. In many developing countries, poor indoor air quality is also caused by the use of charcoal and wood for cooking and heating. Particles and other pollutants in the air that come from burning fossil fuels literally suffocate cities. Studies by the World Health Organization show that their presence above cities causes millions of people to die too soon and costs billions.
- Costs are low when it comes to renewable energy. That’s good for keeping energy prices at affordable levels.
- Increasing energy prices and less access to resources are often linked to geopolitical strife and changes. Since renewable energy is made close to where it is used, it is less likely to be affected by geopolitical crises, sudden price jumps, or sudden problems in the supply chain.
- Jobs are made by using renewable energy. That’s good for the people in the area.
- Most of the money that is put into renewable energy is spent on materials and labor to build and keep up the facilities, not on expensive energy imports. Most investments in renewable energy are made on the same continent, often in the same country, and often in the same town. This means that the money people pay for their energy stays in the area to create jobs and keep the economy going.
- The energy system is more stable when it uses renewable energy. This is important to avoid running out of power.
- Renewables make cities less reliant on energy sources and grids that are far away. Businesses and industries invest in renewable energy to avoid problems, such as those caused by climate change on the weather.
- Everyone has access to clean energy. That is good for growth.
- In many parts of the world, renewable energy is the cheapest way to make new power technologies, and the costs keep going down. Renewable energy is the only way to give more people access to energy, especially in cities in the developing world. This is especially true for people who live in slums, informal settlements, and suburban and peri-urban areas.
In 2020, renewables already provided 29% of the world’s electricity. But besides electricity, it’s still hard to find good news. Only 17 percent of the energy the world needs is used for things like lighting and appliances. About half of the energy is used to heat and cool buildings, and the other third is used to move people and goods. Both of these sectors are far behind in getting rid of carbon because they use much less renewable energy.