“Energy is the golden thread that weaves together the economy, the environment and equity.”
-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
During my morning walk down the street, I saw how the street lights were switched on even when there was enough sunlight. I wondered if we wasted such invaluable resources then building a sustainable world is certainly not possible. Development without sustainability generates a society that abounds in conflicts. The modern era witnessed development at such a rapid rate that a time has now come for us to introspect as to how long can this industrialized world sustain our civilization that I believe will continue generating wealth utilizing available limited factors of production at even a higher rate given a fast rising population. “Sustainability in energy” as I understand is the possibility of a world providing energy equitably to all through appropriate complementary usage of non-renewable resources. To be sustained, in this context, is not the economic but the ecological conditions requiring substantial changes in the economy. The idea is to use ecological gifts in a manner that will lead us into a state where energy shall be available to one and all. This can be accomplished with a more holistic inclusion of the private enterprise sector in the picture. It is my firm belief that if private players can be encouraged to play a greater role in the energy sector by lessening their entry and maintenance costs and with the state partnering with them, we can develop sustainably. Though energy conservation laws have been enacted by many countries, the depletion of energy resources has been continuing at an incessant pace. The regulations imposed by various federal governments on their respective states prescribing ceilings on quantities of non-renewable energy resources that can be exploited by the states have been flouted time and again resulting in overexploitation of exhaustible energy resources. I believe adoption of better energy policies by the governments can help us have sustainable energy for all. Some government policies artificially reduce the prices of the energy resources and embolden inefficient levels of consumption i.e., consumption beyond the usable threshold hence incentivizing exorbitant consumption at cheaper costs. Inviting the private sector to enter the energy field can result in an efficient operation of the market. When private actors are incentivized through proper government policies to enter renewable energy resources market, the current energy crisis can be contained besides ensuring equal access of energy to all. The sustainable model of development in the contemporary era should be one based on intergenerational equity.
With private players in the renewable energy market sector, healthy competition can result in production of innovative technologies and subsequently will also diversify the choices available to the consumers at large in availing energy from renewable resources. It is a well-known fact that non-renewable resources are scarcely available and this directly implies that the prices will be bound to increase in the future due to its depleting quantity. This calls for the shift to renewable energy.
Newer models involving private enterprises and collaboration between the private and the public sectors have to be pursued as they create employment opportunities at all levels and cater to the current industrial needs.
By renewable energy we usually refer to energy produced from water, sun, wind, biomass or such other sources but often we fail to identify some possible yet latent energy resources. Gravity powered energy, lunar energy and Energy derived from natural disasters can be the next potent avenue for sustaining human life in times to come.
The idea of positive responsibility for preservation of non-renewable sources should be incorporated within the energy conservation laws of every country. Positive responsibility, in this context, means the responsibility which an individual owes towards the global community. The government of every state should strive to integrate this notion of conserving energy by making it one of the fundamental duties of a citizen. In this way, more and more people will be morally conscious regarding saving of energy for the future.
I suggest creation of “Renewable Energy Cities” in every country which will be experimental habitats where electricity generated from non-renewable resources will be used. These cities will also counter the climate change problem in an efficient manner and are surely to foster sustainable development. In my country importance of sustainable energy is not stressed upon in primary education which has rendered the common man being unaware of the need to conserve fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy resources. Introduction of such topics not only in schools but also in higher educational institutions will sensitize citizens towards the need for sustainable energy. To sensitize people to the dangers of smoking, every cigarette packet sold in India carries a small photograph of cancerous lungs on it. Similarly, to alert people to the need for energy conservation, I suggest every electronic appliance to carry a picture of “Cupped hands protecting a candle flame against the wind”, an impressive symbol for energy conservation, I feel.
I propose that forums and protocols confining dialogue amongst governments cannot solely solve the issue at hand and the sustainable energy discussion should involve business leaders, nongovernmental organizations, students, scientists as well as academicians. Third world countries, women, urban poor, minorities and indigenous peoples often bear a disproportionately large burden of environmental degradation. It is therefore a pre-requisite to involve them in fulfilling the dream of a future with use of sustainable energy resources. Moreover, a stronger involvement of the developing world countries should be initiated as they retain a major amount of the energy resources.
Hence, it can be concluded that the energy strategies for the future should focus on involvement of competing private enterprises and public-private partnerships to utilize renewable resources of energy. We have only one earth and only one life to preserve it for the future generations; hence it is imperative for the youth of each and every nation to use and promote the use of renewable energy. I also suggest setting up of “Green Councils” which will comprise of young people representing different universities at the state level and they, in association with municipal authorities, will maintain a check on wastage of energy resources by keeping a vigil on usage of electricity at their universities and localities. In this way I intend to achieve the vision of sustainable energy for all.