David Livingston, Deputy Director of the Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council
Fid Thompson, Communications Director, Solar Sister
Lindsey Walter, Senior Policy Advisor, Third Way
For young people today, climate change and other environmental challenges will be perhaps the most urgent and difficult that they face. One of the main drivers of climate change is human use of fossil fuels, which though they have powered humanity into the modern era, have also left devastating effects on the environment and human health. As stated in UN SDG 7, it is crucial to bring affordable and reliable energy to all, including the almost 1 billion who still do not have access to electricity, but also to “ increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix”. While this issue is increasingly urgent, there also some positive signs on the horizon, with renewable and clean energy sources becoming more advanced, efficient, and cost-effective. Several countries have stepped up investment in solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and other renewable sources for use in electricity grids, transport, industry and elsewhere. Costa Rica’s electric system was able to run on renewable sources for 300 straight days in 2017, while China powered an entire province the size of Texas for a week with 100% renewable energy. Iceland has an almost 100% renewable consumption rate, and the UK recently had its first week with no use of coal since the industrial revolution. Moreover, market-based tools such as carbon pricing, and the massive number of jobs being created by renewables ( 9.8 million as of 2017 ) are increasingly making this a bipartisan issue worldwide. Young people in particular need to be engaged with this long-term problem, and receive the knowledge and tools to take appropriate action. This panel will discuss the challenges regarding energy sources and climate change, explore strategies for achieving a more sustainable future, and discuss how youth can make an impact in this field.
Possible Discussion Points:
- What risks do we face if we fail to increase the adoption of renewable energy?
- What are the best strategies for countries, in either the developed or developing world, to expand the use of clean and renewable energy?
- What problems do some countries or communities face that hinder their ability to switch to renewable energy? How can these be addressed?
- Should nuclear energy be considered as an alternative for coal, oil, and gas while renewable technology is still being improved?
- In areas where many still have no access to electricity, are renewables still a viable option? Or should fossil fuels be used to prioritize access?
- How can businesses and industry best be persuaded to join efforts to switch to renewables?
- How can we reduce fossil fuel use for transport?
- What can young people do as individuals to support increased use of clean and renewable energy?