Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its Goal 7 narrates the necessity of universal clean energy. It suggests improving universal, affordable access to clean energy that minimizes local pollution and health impacts and mitigates global warming. Environmental degradation is taking place with numerous menacing upsets. This is because energy is not clean largely polluting industrial urban societies. Periodic earth summits orchestrated the need for emission of green house gas and carbon trade to provide for cleanliness in energy use. As expert opinions go "Our planet is a huge sphere made with solid and liquid, and its surface is wrapped up by a homogeneous gaseous atmosphere. Everything in and out of the surface is tightly bonded by the central attraction force called gravitation. Mathematically speaking, if any poisonous products are delivered into the atmosphere will spread roughly equally all over the world in course of time.
Unfortunately, our mother nature can recycle those harmful products only at a certain rate depending on the reserve of greeneries in the affected area. Anyway, the production of carbon or soot in the developing countries is 15-20 tons per head while Bangladesh produces only 0.30 tons, which is 50-60 times higher. In last 120 years, the sea-water level is raised by 25 cm, and if the rising keeps the rate nine coastal districts of Bangladesh will dissipate in the Bay of Bengal's basin which will dislocate 20 million citizens from the region when our population will be doubled. What a horrible mess waits for Bangladesh!
Both the developed and developing countries ought to keep in close touch with one another sharing knowledge, technologies and expertise. For the vulnerable countries including small state island it is imperative for introducing latest 'adaptation and mitigation technologies' The state of governance will be a matter of grave concern if it does not avoid stoic indifference to the damages already taking place unplanned urbanization with growing urban jungles and industries is polluting and suffocating air. The deluge of urbanization is beginning to adversely affect the countryside. Development under rural modernization experiment has by now shown many a contraindication. There has been wanton destruction of forest trees in costal belts that serve to absorb carbon and the scorching heat of sun. So think of green beckoning to prevent global warming. Environment economists advocate 'carbon-neutral economic production system'.
Several international clean energy projects are underway to prevent energy resources from pollution. That means pollution free clean energy in conformity with the ways of going green. To cite a recent report: "Fossil fuel based energy production will be replaced with renewable, clean energy solutions that can meet increasing energy demand. Investments will target three types of projects. Off-grid renewable electricity energy in the form of solar home systems will be provided via an affordable payment plan. Green mini-grid projects will also be supported via companies that install, operate and maintain photovoltaic based mini-grids to sell energy services in rural communities. Finally, industrial renewable electrical energy and selected on-grid installations will be targeted, by investing in companies that provide modular, transportable, and often rented photovoltaic farms, offering SMEs and communities competitively-priced solar power. Around 50 investments will be made, totalling a volume of USD 500M over the course of five years, and via two phases."
At a later stage, the programme will work with local financial institutions to enable banks to provide long-term loans to businesses that provide clean electricity solutions. A public-private partnership instrument will leverage at least two-fold the impact of public capital through private investment. The project has an estimated lifespan of 15 years.
As Dhaka Tribune reports: "The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves," the statement was realisation of Wangari Maathai, a crusader who fought to conserve the nature of Kenya under her Green Belt Movement. That the human civilisation extracted the natural resources unjustifiably and made irreversible damages to the earth the nature's response is obvious. Climate change is ultimate outcome of excessive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fossil fuel accounts for around 60% of total GHG emissions. Consequently, Barak Obama, former President of the US that is also the largest per capita emitter of the world, claimed that "A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come," but his successor Donald Trump has already declared to leave the Paris Climate Agreement that opted to hold the increase in the global average temperature at least to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels."
A study reveals (cited in Zakir Hussain Khan 2017) that "if scaled up appropriately, distributed renewable solutions will be the cheapest and quickest way of reaching over two thirds of those without electricity in the world. Clean and safe cooking is mostly achieved through access to cleaner fuels, not by more coal power (ODI, 2016).
If clean energy is ensured that will have immense impacts on achieving other SDG targets. Particularly in terms of achieving the SDG1 to reduce poverty.
Low-carbon, renewable options are competitive with coal. In 2014, despite reducing coal-based power generation, China was able to maintain 7% economic growth. Renewables also contributed to 9.4 million additional jobs in 2015, compared to the 7 million employed by the coal industry, according to the World Coal Association's estimate in 2012. Moreover, clean energy will ensure the achievement of SDG3 that has emphasised on ensuring healthy lives and promote well being by reducing the public health damages caused by coal. Since coal plant is prime source of water pollution, replacement by solar or hydropower will ultimately ensure access to safe water stipulated in SDG6.
Introduction of cheaper solar home system for inaccessible rural, remote areas, growing cities will ensure to achieve SDG10 that has focused on reducing inequality. More than 70% of the total population live in rural Bangladesh and have less than 42% electricity access. The key thing in the expansion of clean or renewable energy in any country is not the infrastructure, but the lack of awareness in all developing countries including Bangladesh about opportunities and huge public health damages caused by coal. Bangladesh emits 0.35% of the global total emission but is the most climate vulnerable country. To combat future climate change a number of mitigation preferences have been announced. The motivation is to move towards a low carbon society and climate resilient strong economy. The INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) includes conditional and unconditional emissions reduction goals in the form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer and capacity building.
The unconditional reduction goal is a cut-off of GHG by 12Mt CO2 without external support whereas the conditional goal is a reduction of the GHG emission with external support by 36Mt CO2 within 2030. Bangladesh in its NDC has proposed to invest US$5.15 billion in clean energy by 2030 with funding from external sources. In power sectors, generating electricity and heat contributes almost 44% of the global GHG. In Bangladesh, 87% of total power is consumed for domestic and industrial purpose. Per capita consumption in Bangladesh is only 295 kWh. Urban coverage is higher than rural areas. Total electrical generation capacity is 10,213MW but still there is load-shedding of around 3,000MW. The demand supply gap could be managed by accelerating renewable sources. At present, the major source for domestic electricity is natural gas which provides almost 6578MW. Coal contributes only 250MW that covers 3% of the total power generation. The 7th Five Year Plan (2015) has projected to increase coal power up to 21% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. Nuclear power would cover 8% by 2020 and 10% by 2030.
The plan is to produce 50% electricity with a shift from natural gas to coal by 2030. However, it is a disquieting decision to increase the power generation using coal and nuclear plant with "zero/low carbon emission". Renewable energy and energy efficiency activities in developing countries could cut off a 4.5GT CO2 emission in 2020. Kenya, a developing country, generated 7.6 million MWh of electricity in 2012 without producing and consuming any natural gas or coal.
The main renewable sources in Kenya are hydroelectric, geothermal, wind and solar. By 2020 Bangladesh has targeted to generate 10% of overall electricity from renewable sources even though the country ranks among top five countries in the world that are endowed with abundant solar light, wind and biomass. Ensuring the SDG for affordable and clean energy it is suitable time towards a paradigm shift from non-renewable to renewable energy generation. However, Bangladesh need external financing of around US5.2 billion by 2030 to implement renewable projects.
The government should not entirely be dependent on the grid expansion for electrifying the whole country by 2020. The off-grid electrification (e.g. solar, wind) could be the alternative and better option to reach the entire rural population. It is inspiring Sumba island in Indonesia generates 37 MW of potential energy which comes from micro-hydro power, wind, solar and bio-gas, with an aim to achieve 100% renewable sources by 2025. Innovation, reliability, quality services, responsive certification, entrepreneurship, and public engagement are key intangible issues in the rapid commercialization of the renewable energy. The government should initiate small projects with a full-pledged renewable source in small villages, remote communities for a sustainable green society by reducing the carbon emissions.
So safe human environment by cleaning emery. This costs nothing financially. Only conscious citizens can think to clean energy in an attempt to make development green friendly.
(Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder, Pro-VC, BUP and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Retired Professor, Chittagong University).