A Double Edged Sword

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Source: International Renewable Energy Agency

Conference of the Parties 22 also known as the ‘COP of Action’ strives to implement the Paris Agreement, to ensure a low carbon future. Most of the sessions scheduled for day 2 revolved around low-carbon renewable energy.

Climate change adaptation in developing countries focuses on a shift of energy sources from non-renewables to renewable energy. Some of the side events focusing on the topic included Renewable Energy: Rural Electrification Technology Transfer & Hydropower Vulnerability by the University of Cape Town and The Role of Non-State Actors in Enhancing Near-Term Ambition and Promoting The Implementation of the Paris Agreement conducted by WWF and the Climate Action Network.

The Climate Resilient Development workshop organised by the Malaysia Pavilion conducted by Dr Gary Theseira; one of Malaysia’s core negotiators in the COP also dwelled on the country’s intention to focus on Renewable Energy in future. The Earth Info program by the UNFCCC also focused on emission reduction and Renewables.

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Earth information plenary at COP22

In an attempt to achieve UNFCCC set targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, countries around the region have shifted from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Renewable energies include wind, hydro, solar, wave and geothermal power. However, these renewable energies come at a cost. It poses serious threats to the environment, mostly animal species. Climate change adds to the treats most migratory species are faced with today.

Although the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have opened doors for conservation, I am of the view that implementation of the Paris Agreement has to some extent reversed conservation efforts.

Wind Farms are being proposed in most developing countries, to achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are climate actions that determine a country’s efforts to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees. The proposed locations of wind farms lie on Bird Migration Flyways, especially in Asia. Wind turbines take a toll on migratory birds due to collisions.

Hydropower causes river based migratory fauna such as salmon to lose their habitats and biomass production also leads to increased degradation and habitat loss. According to the WWF, solar and tidal waves also have their drawbacks. In my opinion, renewable energy is a double-edged sword.

I believe that achieving the NDCs are important to ensure less than two degrees of temperature change, but I am also of the view that the SDGs and the Paris Agreement should compliment each other. In my point of view, there lies a policy gap between the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. In an ideal world, they should compliment each other and current efforts by the International Renewable Energy Agency and conservation societies are paramount to bridge this policy gap.

Written by Dulanga Witharanage
Edited by Elaine See

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