Global: Boosting renewable energy use can happen quickly – and reduce harm to low-income people if done thoughtfully
- Aug 10, 2022 3:50 pm GMT
Source: The Conversation –
With many nations making efforts to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, SciLine interviewed
The Conversation has collaborated with SciLine to bring you highlights from the discussion, which have been edited for brevity and clarity.
How is our country doing at making the transition to renewable energy?
In terms of policy and regulations, we are moving forward, but we need to be more aggressive. Something that we’re missing and that would be really helpful would be a coherent, federal-level climate policy – whether that is regulatory policy, such as we have for pollution, or a carbon tax or some kind of a cap. The Inflation Reduction Act would be a fantastic starting point if it becomes law.
A good example of something that has been done is President Biden’s move to coordinate and streamline the federal approval process for offshore wind. There are seven federal agencies involved, and having them all separate and moving at their own pace was really difficult for offshore wind energy developers.
How does our current energy system disproportionately harm poor communities and communities of color?
For example, it’s common for states to subsidize rooftop solar. And this is good, but the people who get the subsidies are people who own roofs with sun shining on them. People who live in apartments and in cities don’t have access to this, and yet they’re paying for the subsidies. We take the money for the subsidies from everyone, including low-income people, and send them mostly to white, wealthy suburbs.
How can injustices in our energy system be rectified?
We also need to involve and listen to the traditionally marginalized communities that are most affected by the inequities.
What do you think of the federal and state targets set for offshore wind?
Having this goal of 30 gigawatts helps to organize the supply chain – all the pieces that need to get done for this to happen. We need people who know how to install offshore wind farms. We need special ships. We need planning for transmission. Having these goals really helps to organize all that and make sure all these pieces are in place.
What are the environmental costs and benefits of offshore wind?
Some of the work I’ve done has shown that there are billions, and maybe even trillions, of dollars of climate value in offshore wind. We lose between
In terms of local environmental benefits, when you build an offshore wind farm, the stuff underneath the water ends up creating an artificial reef and actually increasing sea life in that area, which is a benefit.
Negatively, they interfere with bird migrations. Birds don’t actually fly into the wind turbines that much. They fly around them. But if there are a lot of wind farms, that’s a lot of flying around, and that can be hard on the birds. And some animals, like right whales, can get caught in mooring lines if we have floating wind turbines. So, there are local environmental costs. What we need to do is balance these with the global benefits from addressing climate change.
Are you hopeful about our ability to address climate change?
Watch the full interview to hear more about what’s required for a just, renewable energy transition.
SciLine is a free service based at the nonprofit
– ref. Boosting renewable energy use can happen quickly – and reduce harm to low-income people if done thoughtfully – https://theconversation.com/boosting-renewable-energy-use-can-happen-quickly-and-reduce-harm-to-low-income-people-if-done-thoughtfully-187753
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