At dawn, the sun ascends, casting its light upon the world, and within each beam resides a commitment: providing accessible, eco-friendly energy for all, reaching every corner of the globe. The wind, the gentle breeze that caresses our faces, holds the power to set colossal wind turbines in motion, harmonizing with nature and producing electricity without contributing to climate change. The rivers, in their ceaseless flow, tell the story of hydroelectric plants harnessing their force to illuminate entire cities, ensuring that no one is left untouched by the currents of progress in our world. Today, on January 26, we commemorate the power of these and various other energy sources on International Clean Energy Day.
This article covers the following topics:
- International Clean Energy Day 2024
- Understanding clean energy
- Clean energy and its impact on the sustainability of the planet
- The economic and social implications of clean energy
The origins of International Clean Energy Day 2024
International Clean Energy Day was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly, officially designated on January 26 through resolution A/77/327. The primary objective of this day is to raise awareness and galvanize efforts toward a transition to clean energy. The chosen date holds significance as it marks the founding anniversary of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), acclaimed for its pivotal role in expediting the shift to the sustainable utilization of renewable energy.
It is crucial to distinguish International Clean Energy Day from World Energy Day, observed every February 14. The latter focuses on advocating for universal access to energy and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
What do we mean by clean energy?
Clean energy encompasses energy sources with minimal environmental impact, emitting negligible greenhouse gases throughout their production and usage. In contrast to conventional energy sources like fossil fuels, clean energy is recognized for its environmentally friendly attributes.
This category includes both renewable and non-renewable energies, such as nuclear power:
- Solar energy: Derived from sunlight, available in photovoltaic or solar thermal forms.
- Wind energy: Generated by converting wind into electricity using wind turbines.
- Hydroelectric power: Harnessed from the movement of water, such as river currents or waterfalls.
- Geothermal energy: Sourced from heat stored beneath the earth's surface.
- Biomass energy: Created from organic matter, including plants and animal waste.
- Ocean energy: Encompasses both tidal energy (generated by tides) and wave energy.
- Nuclear energy: While nuclear energy may be considered clean in terms of carbon emissions, its inclusion in this list can be controversial due to the radioactive waste it produces. In this article, we already addressed the environmental impacts of nuclear energy.
Why clean energy is important for the sustainability of the planet
Clean energy is pivotal for the planet's sustainability as it mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, the primary culprits behind global warming.
However, renewable energy is even more important. While all forms of renewable energy are inherently clean, not all clean energy sources are renewable. Take nuclear power, for instance; it's classified as clean due to its lack of greenhouse gas emissions but is non-renewable, relying on uranium, a finite resource.
Renewable energy, on the contrary, originates from sources that naturally replenish in a short time frame and never run out. These sources encompass the sun, wind, water, and biomass. By harnessing these energies, we can diminish our reliance on fossil fuels, which are both exhaustible and environmentally detrimental, contributing to air pollution and climate change.
Renewable energies open avenues to provide electricity and essential services to regions where it would otherwise be impossible, elevating living conditions for numerous communities. The documentary series, “Let there Be Light,” vividly recounts the journey of a volunteer bringing clean energy to the Peruvian Amazon and the positive transformations experienced by populations in remote and challenging-to-access areas. To witness how the presence of small solar panels can profoundly alter lives in the jungle, you can watch it here.
In addition, renewable energies have another advantage that often goes unnoticed and which we have already mentioned in this article, they are easily reversible at the end of their useful life.
Why clean energy matters for people and the global economy
The interconnection among clean energy, socioeconomic development, and environmental sustainability is paramount in tackling the challenges faced by vulnerable communities globally:
- Environmental protection: With zero greenhouse gas emissions during both production and usage, clean energy plays a pivotal role in combating climate change.
- Security of electricity supply: A heightened reliance on renewable energies in the energy generation matrix can enhance the security of electricity supply, reducing dependence on volatile fossil fuel imports.
- Economic growth: The energy transition is anticipated to generate 122 million jobs by 2050, with a substantial portion attributed to renewable energy, as noted by IRENA.
- Access to electricity: Clean energy has the potential to extend electricity to communities lacking reliable energy sources. Currently, 675 million people live without access to electricity.
- Resilience to price volatility: Renewable energy can assist countries in building resilience to price fluctuations and lowering overall energy costs.
In short, International Clean Energy Day is not simply a celebration, but a call to action for governments, industries, and organizations around the world. This day underscores the pressing need for a worldwide shift toward cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. Progress demands a harmonious alignment of policy, innovation, and investment to confront the shared challenge of climate change. The fate of our planet hinges on our collective ability to redefine how we generate and utilize energy.