Energy transition is imperative:environmental sustainability and social justice should both be taken into account/SDGs7、13-Part A

Energy transition is imperative:environmental sustainability and social justice should both be taken into account/SDGS-7、13(affordable clean energy and climate change)


Energy plays a central role in all sustainable development issues, including poverty alleviation, food safety, public health and health, education, job creation, and empowerment of youth and women── Description of SDG7 for the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals

Changing from traditional “dirty energy” like coal and oil to “clean energy” like solar power and wind power, is a much-debated topic of this century. Undoubtedly, energyinfluences the establishing of the agenda. Aside from affecting the image of economic pattern, it also gearsa greater challenge── climate change.

As the effect of climate change is accepted and recognized by the world, the lack of description of energy issuesand climate action in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), have eachbecome independent items in Sustainable Development Goal(SDG), the items being items 7 and 13 respectively.

phtoto credit: @ Wikimedia Commons

SDGs 7:Affordable and clean energy. To ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

SDGs 13:Climate action. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

According to the estimates of International Energy Agency, there are currently 1.1 billion people who are unable to obtainstable electrical power. Over half of those people live south of the Sahara Desert in Africa and face “energy poverty”. How to add energy access is a direction we must work towards.

For this, SDG7set a goal that before 2030, everyone should enjoy “affordable” modern energy and emphasize the increase of renewable energy usage ratio and the increase of the speed of progress of the renewable energy efficiency, which reminds each nation during the process of energy transitionto avoid energy poverty and social injustice.

Energy transition should take into account “environmental sustainability” and “social justice”

Looking back on 2017, during the process of Taiwan’senergy transition, the revision of the Electricity Act, the opening and selling ofthe electric market, giving preferential treatment to promote the development of renewable energy, and explicitly setting the goal ofreaching “nuclear-free homeland” by 2025 and entering a new stage.However, the unexpected power outage on August 15th, 2017 and the serious air pollution in the central and southern part of Taiwan in winter, triggered problems of energy stability and unevenpollution source area.

Discussing “affordable energy” in a nearly one hundred percent energy accessible Taiwan makes one further inquirewhether the strategies taken and systems designedare according tosocial justice and taking into account environmental sustainability, going towards the goal of energy transition.

The 2025 energy share target set in the Electricity Industry Law is: coal reduction to 30%, increase natural gas to 50%, increase renewable energy ratio substantially to20%. Facing the future energy transition, the primary concern of the public and the industrial circles is:will the price of electricity increase?

According to the research of Zhao Jiawei, a postdoctoral researcher of NTU Risk Society and Policy Research Center, if according to the current policy direction, the price of electricity in 2025 will be approximately 30% more than what it is now. This is equivalent to themarkup between 2008 and2014. Under the rapid decrease of the cost of future renewable energy and the gradually steady price of natural gas, the rise of the price of electricity shouldn’t have much of an impact. What’s more important is to modify the level of burden on electricity charges, so there would be a fair distribution.

From the analysis of the householdincome and expenditure survey that the highest 5th point of the income accounts for 0.8% of the expenditure but the lowest point accounts for 2.2%, which means the fewer the income, the bigger the burden of electricity expenses. If electricity prices increase in the future, it’s likely many people will face energy poverty. In this regard, Zhao Jiawei believes there should be a relative price range of electricity prices so that the proportion of the burden of electricity prices would be fairer and can also contribute to power-saving electricity consumption incentives.

photo credit: korji123 cheng @ Unsplash

The development of green energy and biodiversity should not be in conflict

Furthermore, in the process of establishing green energy, problems of social ecological exclusion may arise. Recently CNPC intended to install the third natural gas receiving station in Datan, Taoyuan, which caused the locals to worry about the damage to the precious ecology of algae reefs. Taitung County government wants to cooperate with manufacturers to develop the Zhiben Wetland to set up a ground type solar energy plant, causing problems of ecological destruction and invasion of traditional aboriginal areas; whether offshore wind power, attracts many large European capitals歐洲大型資to invest in Taiwan, will affect local fishermen and habitats of the white dolphins, remains to be assessed.

“Actually the relevant industry’s degree of recognition of ecological impact during the development of green energy is better than past traditional development. We do not want to sacrifice ecology to develop green energy. A more comprehensive program and alternative scheme could let green energy have aninclusive developmental model,” Zhao Jiawei says.

“There is another possible solution,” which is the important attitude of green energy development; fully inform, expose the information of interested parties,and encourage the involvement of local communities to discuss and adjust plans and not solely based on the experts hired by the government or enterprises. Good promotion efficiency depends on long-time evaluation and communication andthe integration of technology and society.

photo credit: skeeze @ Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons