Accelerating the transition to renewable energy is the key to saving the planet, according to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The World Meteorological Organization’s latest flagship report detailed how extreme weather in 2021 from climate change harmed the planet and took a heavy toll on human life, food and water security, and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss.
According to the report, the past seven years have been the warmest on record.
Guterres said a renewable energy transition is a lifeline in the rush to heal the planet.
He said that while time is running out to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, ending fossil fuel pollution and accelerating the renewable energy transition is essential “before we incinerate our only home.”
In a video message, he proposed the following five actions to start the transition:
- Make renewable energy technology a global public good, meaning it’s available to everyone
- Improve global access to renewable energy components and raw materials
- Reform domestic policy frameworks to fast-track renewable energy projects
- Move subsidies to renewable energy rather than fossil fuels
- Investments in renewable energy must triple: At least $4 trillion a year needs to be invested in renewables until 2030
According to the report, greenhouse gas concentrations reached new global highs in 2020 — despite COVID-19 lockdowns — and continued to increase in 2021.
The ocean also continued to warm last year, and because of excess carbon dioxide in the environment, it is becoming increasingly acidic.
Sea levels are on the rise as ice sheets melt, and heat waves have caused deaths and wildfires across the globe.
Guterres said renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind are readily available, and often cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels.
While environmental experts continue to push for international coordination to expand manufacturing and access to materials, those with access to materials currently can begin within their own communities.
Studies have shown how renewable energy is “contagious” in communities, and when even one person adds solar panels to their roof, others are likely to follow.
While these changes may seem small in the larger climate crisis, experts say this demonstration is a way to share knowledge among friends and family, and can lead to larger changes and pushes for a change in policy.
Many people are unaware of how to access renewable energy technology or where to begin, experts say, so education is key to helping communities understand how it works and how to get involved.
Photo by Narcisa Aciko