How Much Renewable Energy Do
We Need to Reach Climate Goals?
As more and more people are beginning to come around and understand the climate crisis we face, many are trying to reduce their own personal carbon footprints by eating less meat, buying more fuel-efficient cars or electric vehicles, and purchasing second-hand goods. Another method some people have begun to employ is to have solar panels installed in their homes to reduce or eliminate their dependence upon fossil fuels for electricity.
The more people who upgrade to power that comes from solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric systems, the better off we will be in reaching our climate goals. But how much renewable energy do we need to produce in order to do this?
For starters, what are the climate goals currently set in place? The 2015 Paris Agreement, signed on by several countries, agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, but more ideally below 1.5 degrees C.
It’s widely agreed upon that we must drop our emissions by 50% by 2030 and become net-zero by 2050 in order to reduce the odds of the worst climate change impacts from occurring.
A recent report gave key information about how we are doing in the fight to meet or exceed our climate goals. There is some good news, but the report mostly outlines how much further we still have to go if we want to reach these goals.
The Good News
According to the report, there are two sectors of the climate agreement that we are on track to meet if we continue with the current trajectory. Ruminant meat consumption, or meat that comes from beef, goats, sheep, and some wild game, like bison, deer, or caribou, is currently at decent levels to help us meet our goals.
We have also seen an uptick in crop yields, thanks to recent biotechnology innovations, and this is also on track to meet these more specific goals by 2030.
From there, unfortunately, there are several aspects that are insufficient, including renewable energy processes, like solar cells.
Under the “insufficient progress” category, there are 14 sectors that are at least going in the right direction to meet our goals, but their progress hasn’t been enough to get us over the finish line.
Included here is transportation, namely the sale and use of electric vehicles over their gas-guzzling counterparts. Our reforestation efforts have also paid off to some degree, but the report predicts that we will need to increase these efforts 11 times more to reach our goals.
When it comes to renewable energy, there is still far too much coal being used over more sustainable choices. The report estimates that renewable energy will need to increase six times faster than it currently is, and we will have to phase out coal five times faster than we currently are.
Fortunately, renewable energy is estimated to make up 21% of our energy use, which is a substantial increase from past years. On the flip side, coal still makes up far too much of our energy grid, so we need to shut down coal plants and not build any new ones in the coming years.
There are sadly some areas where we are going in the completely wrong direction, and we will need to seriously turn these aspects around if we want to meet our goals. Deforestation levels have actually increased in recent years, and trees are incredibly helpful for removing carbon dioxide from the air.
There are still too many emissions from agricultural production as well, and the time to change some of these practices to reduce their environmental impact is well past due.
The Bottom Line
Although we as a world have made tremendous progress in renewable energy output in the past few years, it isn’t nearly enough to prevent some of the worst aspects of climate change.
We will need to all work together and ramp up our efforts on increasing renewable energy and phasing out coal. If you’re ready to step up and make the change, having solar panels installed in your home can be one of the best things you can do. They are low maintenance, and they can substantially increase the value of your home while helping you save the planet.