Renewable Energy


Thomas Dobbs, Reporter

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported on October 8 that humans have until 2030 before catastrophic and irreversible climate change occurs. This alarming figure is a sign that action must be taken immediately. Global citizens should implore their governments to further limit their own carbon footprints. According to the UN report, in order to avoid such devastating levels of global warming (average global temperatures reaching 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels before 2030), countries around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” To achieve this seemingly impossible task, the US must first look to Bhutan.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is the only carbon negative country, indicating that it removes more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it emits. One of the major provisions achieving this state is their unique constitution that protects their vast forests. Their constitution states that a minimum amount of 60% of the land must be maintained under for-

est cover, in addition to the banishment of logging exports in 1999. Furthermore, Bhutan utilizes hydropower as its source of energy, and its excess electricity is sold to surrounding nations. Bhutan also established a goal to attain 100% organic agriculture by 2020 and be waste-free by 2030. To preserve their environment and limit mass tourism, Bhutan charges $250 per day to visit the nation. The world can learn from Bhutan’s decisions to prioritize the preservation of the environment.

Bhutan, a leader in the push for renewable energies, has already proved some of the possible ways to net carbon neutrality or negativity. Other countries are seeing this, and progressive states led by willing governments such as Sweden, Denmark, Germany and China are all converting to renewable energy while the US remains slow to evolve. How can the US learn from other countries’ successes?

To solve the US’s failure to adopt renewables, the US needs to implement a carbon tax, ensuring that as any company pollutes at an increasing rate, a fine (carbon tax) will rise in cost. The economic advantage would no longer favor fossil fuels, and for these companies to remain profitable, investments in renewable energy would be mandatory. A carbon tax is not only effective in theory, as Sweden implemented the first carbon tax in 1991 that has experienced little-recognized success. According to the Swedish Energy Agency, their emissions decreased by 26% without affecting their economy. In fact, due to Sweden’s pioneering success, 46 other countries now implement a carbon tax.

The world is grim, and our future is looking bleaker than ever. For change to occur, we must demand that our government ignore the coal and oil industries and listen to the American people. According to the Green Energy Barometer, the largest-ever global survey concerning renewable energy conducted by Ørsted, found that 83% of Americans “think it is important to create a world fully powered by renewable energy.” Reliable change has been proven possible; it is now our duty to ensure a greener future for all.