Be innovative and ambitious this World Energy Conservation Day
December 14th- just a week and a half away from Christmas- is World Energy Conservation Day. It’s a day which aims to raise awareness about energy efficiency and conservation and encourages world leaders to prioritise accessible and sustainable energy generation.
The United Nation’s 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is Affordable and Clean Energy. The progress of the Affordable and Clean Energy Goal is tracked by four key areas: energy access, energy efficiency, renewable energy and international cooperation. While the UN celebrates rapid improvements in the sustainability and accessibility of energy, it acknowledges the need for safer and cleaner cooking fuels and the greater electrification of sub-Saharan Africa.
World Energy Conservation Day is more important this year than ever as our climate rapidly heats up, threatening our precious environment, human health and exacerbating existing inequalities across the globe. With COVID-19 on the forefront of our minds, the Day also is an opportunity to envision a future which aspires to uphold fairness and equality by increasing the sustainability and accessibility of energy globally.
Here’s a quick snapshot of climate change at the moment:
We are currently 1.14°C above pre-industrial levels. And the impacts of our planet heating up it being felt acutely: from rising sea levels in the Pacific to the unprecedented bushfires here in Australia.
To avoid irreversible impacts to our planet we need to keep it under 1.5℃.
Energy contributes approximately 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas for energy generation creates emissions which heat our planet. To tackle this challenge, we need to prioritise cleaner energy alternatives which are more energy efficient (fun fact: did you know coal-fired power plants are only about 40% efficient?) and contribute minimal emissions.
The 7th SDG continues to address deep inequalities surrounding energy access across the globe. Currently 789 million people, 13% of the global population, continue to live without access to modern electricity. Energy derived and used unsustainability also poses a risk to human health and quality of life. 2.8 billion people lack access to clean fuels and technology for cooking, consequently utilising fuels like biomass, kerosene and coal which cause adverse health effects through exposure to harmful household air pollution.
Young people are on the front lines of these challenges: from climate change to the lasting health and lifestyles impacts of energy inaccessibility. As the next generation, we could be facing a planet which heats above 1.5℃ or even 2℃, causing drastic and adverse changes to the way we work, play and live in modern society. From the loss of environmental icons like the Great Barrier Reef to agricultural struggles as crop yields decline, our futures could be rather bleak.
Ensuring energy sustainability and accessibility is critical to young people because it secures a safer future for our planet and also protects a myriad of human rights, including health, an adequate standard of living and employment.
We deserve a safe, clean and healthy environment which intrinsically upholds our rights and globally champions a good quality of life.
World Energy Conservation Day, thus, inspires us to be innovative and ambitious with our vision for the future. Young people have already raised their voices, advocating for stronger action on climate change. We wrote letters, we marched in the streets and we continue to educate each other over social media. It’s time we bring our leaders and our communities with us.
What do you want our post-COVID world to look like?
The recovery road out from COVID-19 is an incredible opportunity for us to encourage our leaders and decision-makers to place environmental action and energy conservation on their to-do list. Together we can build a better future underpinned by more sustainable and accessible energy for all.
Maiysha Moin is a facilitator with UN Youth Victoria and the former Convenor of the 2020 Victorian With Love, With Pride Summit. She’s studying a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, and is involved with social and environmental activism with School Strike 4 Climate and her university’s student union.