In the year 2000, the United Nations (UN) developed and declared eight Milllenium Development Goals (MDGs) which were signed by 189 country members. The aim was to accomplish the eight goals by 2015. The goals are listed below
- Overcome hunger and poverty
- Make Universal primary education a priority
- Gender equality promotion and women empowerment
- Decrease child mortality
- Enhance maternal health
- Combat various diseases including HIV Aids and malaria
- Work towards environmental sustainability
- Global partnerships to promote the development and achievement of the MDGs
Solar Energy and Millennium Development Goal 7
How does Solar Energy Contribute To Sustainable Development Program?
Millennium Development Goal 7 aims at the world working towards environmental sustainability. It involves managing ecosystems and natural resources well which most people, animals, and plants depend on to meet their food requirements. Fossil fuels are used on a wide scale globally more than other energy sources. In fact 80% of the world’s energy comes from coal, oil and natural gas while a mere 20% comes from nuclear and renewable sources.
Firewood and charcoal are also common energy sources in developing countries. Unfortunately, the use of fossil fuels and firewood as energy sources is not sustainable because they are not renewable.
Whereas solar energy is clean energy and abundant in supply, non-renewable energy resources are limited in supply. Fossil fossils are burnt to generate energy. The process emits greenhouse gases which are responsible for air and water pollution. Pollution leads to global warming which causes many health conditions in humans, animals and also cause climate change. Secondly, the use of fossil fuels and trees as energy sources is not sustainable because the resources are not renewable. To get firewood and charcoal, forests have to be destroyed which lead to massive deforestation. Forest cover has been on the decline in the last few decades and lack of forest cover is also responsible for climate change.
The world has to find alternatives to these energy sources so that the remaining forests can be preserved and and effects of global warming can be mitigated.
In this regard, switching to solar energy by member countries from conventional fossil fuel electricity, firewood and charcoal can help in achieving MDG goal 7 of achieving environmental sustainability.
Why is Solar Energy Environmentally Sustainable?
For the 189 nations which signed the MDGs to achieve sub-goals 7A and 7B, they will need to use alternatives to fossil fuels, firewood and charcoal. MDG 7A aims at reversing the loss of environmental resources and developing sustainable development principles, the widespread use of solar energy can help in achieving this. MDG 7B, on the other hand, seeks to lower biodiversity loss.
Solar energy is one of the renewable energy resources and a good alternative to fossil fuels, firewood and charcoal. And this is how solar power and sustainability in developing countries can be achieved. Many developing countries still rely on firewood for fuel and burning charcoal. Forests take many years to grow, therefore, the practice is not sustainable. Also, mining of fossil fuels has many environmental hazards and loss of land resources which can be combated by use of solar energy.
The above two goals namely MDG 7A and 7B are linked to reducing climate change by finding alternative energy sources. Climate change is caused by loss of biodiversity and global warming. Reducing global warming improves water resources, protection of plant and animal species including marine species because of less water and air pollution. pollution.
Worth noting, by 2015 some countries had made progress to achieve most of the goals while others had not. The goals were, therefore, replaced by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016 which are set to be achieved by 2030.
As mentioned above, SDGs replaced the 2015 MDGs. Solar energy can help meet at least five of the SDGs goals listed below Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
- Sustainable Development Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Sustainable Development Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
- Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action
- Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life Below Water
- Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life On Land
Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
For the world to have a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy resource, dependence on fossil fuels, firewood and charcoal as energy sources has to decrease. The non-renewable energy sources should be be replaced by renewable energy resources like solar energy. By 2017 the percentage of the globe that was using affordable and clean energy was only 57%. The goal is for 95% of the global population to use clean and renewable energy resources by 2030. To accomplish this goal, technologies of harnessing clean energy have to be enhanced.
Solar Energy as Clean Energy
Solar energy is one of the renewable energy resources because its generation is free from greenhouse gases and it is abundant in supply, therefore, renewable.
it is Affordable
The popularity of solar energy is increasing across the globe. Many developed countries and developing nations are reducing their reliance on non-renewable energy resources by using solar energy and other renewable energy resources like wind power.
To harness solar energy, it requires a simple installation of solar panels. No transportation is required like the way coal has to be transported from the mines to power plants. The transportation of coal adds to more air pollution. In addition, no generators or technical manpower is needed to manage solar panel installations. Solar energy is freely available and it is easy to harness the resource. The energy is also reliable because it is abundant.
As such, solar electricity is affordable energy. Companies and homes can become independent producers of their energy by installing solar panels.
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
The solar industry is growing. It generates many jobs in many economies in the world. Solar energy helps in the achievement of this Sustainable Development Goal of industry, innovation, and infrastructure because the solar industry manufactures solar panels and other devices used in installing solar systems. The industry is robust requiring the manufacturing of solar panels, solar batteries, inverters, electrical wires among other solar accessories. The gadgets have a ready market because of the growing popularity of solar energy.
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
By adopting the use of solar energy in contrast to fossil fuels, you become a producer of an eco-friendly energy. Solar panels are also recyclable for sustainability. If many organizations including institutions, firms with or without factories, government and non-government organizations adopt solar energy which is green energy, there will be a reduction of greenhouse emissions.
Goal 13: Climate Action
SDG 13 is regulating emissions and promoting the use of renewable energy resources to reduce climate change. Use of solar energy will have a positive environmental impact. In the USA in 2018, 63% of the electricity generated was derived from fossil fuels. If more and more people adopt the use of solar energy by 2030, the total energy generated using fossil fuels will be much lower than 63%. This will result to lower carbon emissions. The result will be mitigating the direct drivers of climate change.
Goal 14: Life Below Water
If no action is taken, climate change and other non-sustainable practices will lead to marine biodiversity species extinction. The use of solar energy has a direct positive impact on marine life, including marine plants and animals. Solar energy has zero emissions when solar energy is being generated. Unfortunately, when fossil fuels are used to generate electricity, emissions find their way into the air, land, and water. Furthermore, generating electricity from fossil fuels requires huge amounts of water which has to be drawn from available water resources including seas and oceans.
Solar energy is regarded as clean energy because there are no emissions into the seas and oceans. What’s more, it doesn’t require any water to run the generators. Also, organizations adopting the use of solar energy make a big impact by reducing their reliance on fossil fuel energy because factories use large amounts of energy in their production processes. Actions to reduce climate change through decreased greenhouse gases will preserve life below water. Climate change action will also reduce rising sea levels, it will minimize the melting of ice sheets among other effects of global warming. The bottom line is that as more people use renewable energy resources marine biodiversity resources will be preserved.
Goal 15: Life On Land
Solar energy is an alternative to the use of firewood as an energy resource. To combat desertification various alternatives to firewood should be adopted in developing countries to prevent biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss is also caused by the effects of climate change. Solar energy has a big role to play in achieving a green economy and preserving life on land.
What makes solar energy sustainable is because it is clean energy, abundant and easy to harness. The US government and many other governments across the globe have played a big role in promoting alternative and renewable energy resources through federal and state solar incentives. This is because switching to solar energy will help in achieving sustainable development goals which are part of the millennium development goals of 2015.