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How does renewable energy reduce climate change?

Published date: August 2021

forest setting with a tree in the background
Renewable energy, also known as clean energy, comes from processes that are constantly replenished or from natural sources. Examples of renewable energy are sunlight or wind, but even their availability depends on the time and weather. 

Non-renewable energy includes fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. These sources of energy are only available in limited amounts and take a long time to replenish. When we pump fuel at the petrol station, we’re using a finite resource refined from crude oil that’s been around since prehistoric times. 

The climate crisis is not waiting for us. Human-caused climate change has already been proven to increase the risk of floods and extreme wildfires, rainfall and heatwaves, with implications for wildlife, humans and the environment. It is real – and it is already happening.

There’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now than at any other time in human history.

According to the BBC, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2020, hitting 417 parts per million in May. The last time CO2 levels exceeded 400 parts per million was around four million years ago, during the Pliocene era. 

The world’s tropical forests are shrinking at a staggering rate, the equivalent of 30 football pitches per minute. The BBC also states that since 1990 the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest. Tropical deforestation is now responsible for 11 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions – if it were considered a country, tropical deforestation would be the third-largest emitter after China and the US. 

Trees absorb not only the carbon dioxide that we exhale, but also the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that human activities emit. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and deforestation threatens species including the Sumatran tiger and orangutan. 

There may also come a time when we no longer have snow-capped mountains or glaciers as scientists recently have stated that sadly the ice is declining at a much faster rate than previously expected. Tech times explain that “the sea ice will begin to vanish completely between the years 2040 and 2050. Previously, it has been estimated that the thickness of the ice in the Arctic Ocean has been dropping 17 percent every 10 years; however, the latest research suggests the drop could be slightly faster”.

Renewable energy, together with energy efficiency, represent a safe, reliable, affordable and immediately deployable pathway to a low-carbon future that can achieve over 90 per cent of the energy-related CO2 emission reductions needed to meet climate goals. This makes the transition to sustainable energy the decisive factor in tackling climate change.

How does renewable energy reduce climate change?

There are many contributors to the escalating global impact of climate change. Studies show that our use of non-renewable energy sources is the major culprit. Non-renewable energy is derived from what we know as fossil fuels; including coal, natural gas, petroleum, bitumen, and shale oil. From the moment we extract fossil fuels to the final consumption stage, these energy sources pose a number of climate risks. We know that choosing alternative sources will have an overall positive impact on the planet in several ways and most importantly help the environment. 

But you may be wondering why and how? 

Renewable energy produces zero waste. There are no carbon emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change or air pollution. It is, thus, one of the best choices for countries combating the climate change problem. Renewables could supply four-fifths of the world’s electricity by 2050, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping mitigate climate change. Avoiding the worst effects of global warming will require us to source at least 85 per cent of global power from renewables, with a minimum of two thirds of total energy from renewable sources – wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, bioenergy and the burgeoning tidal technology. 

Is renewable energy good for the environment?

The benefits of renewable energies are huge. Not only do they improve our health and economy, but also the environment. Using renewable energy over fossil fuels has a number of advantages. 

The most important advantage of renewable energy is that it puts an end to the production of greenhouse gases, most notably CO2 that causes global heating.

Renewable energy generation sources emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air. This means a smaller carbon footprint and an overall positive impact on the natural environment. The combustion of fossil fuels for energy results in a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Most sources of renewable energy result in little to no emissions, even when considering the full life cycle of the technologies.

How can you make a difference to reduce global warming?

Small changes to your behaviour at home will help you use less energy, cutting your carbon footprint and your energy bills. Choosing to do a few simple things differently at home can mount up to more than you think and have a significant impact on reducing climate warming.
  • Put on an extra layer and turn the heating down a degree or two.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when you don’t need them.
  • Replace light bulbs with LEDs or other low-energy lights.
The next step is looking to make sure your home is energy efficient. Switching energy supply to a green tariff is a great way to invest in renewable energy sources – and could save you money on bills too.  


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