Give the planet a breakGo for a green shift and employment in renewables after the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of the global lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a drastic reduction in carbon emissions from vehicles and other entities with chemical hazards, thus giving earth an unusual chance to repair itself naturally. It is prudent to learn a lesson from nature, and create plans and policies for a sustainable future. The most important task is to invest in renewable resources for the twin benefits of saving the economy and fighting climate change. Moreover, employment opportunities will arise in the field of renewables and related sectors.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, more than 11 million people were employed in the renewables sector at the end of 2018. This signifies that job opportunities in this sector are abundant. It also provides long-term and eco-friendly development. Because of the virus, Nepal is in the midst of an economic and employment crisis that needs to be rectified immediately. Emphasising renewables in this kind of situation can be an effective way to amplify employment opportunities and generate revenues. The employment generated along the renewable supply chain depends on several factors. They include governmental policies, diversification of supply chains, trade patterns and industry reorganisation and consolidation trends. Aside from these factors, labour productivity grows in importance over time.
In Nepal's context, there are several government bodies, non-governmental organisations, international non-governmental organisations and private companies working in the field of renewables and providing job opportunities. A green shift in the field of transportation would be a major success in repairing air pollution in urban areas, thereby increasing the possibility for carbon trade in the international market. Cooking using induction instead of fuelwood, and biofuel instead of liquefied petroleum gas can reduce our oil imports.
A government body, the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, is responsible for handling the alternative energy sector in Nepal. A department under this centre has been in every local municipality with the aim of utilising the maximum amount of green energy from the local level. However, there is not enough investment, technology and manpower in these departments to strengthen them to induce the people to make a green shift.
As hordes of people have returned to their hometowns because of the nationwide lockdown, involving skilled manpower and encouraging them in developing from the local level would be a great strategy. This approach can lead to decentralisation of the population, development throughout the country, employment opportunities, the advancement of technology and economic reflation. Green entrepreneurs with the motive of 'saving the earth and making money' are working in sectors like solar, micro and mini hydropower, biogas and wind energy. These entrepreneurs should be able to provide cheaper energy to the public. This will enhance the involvement of people in this sector and boost Nepal’s economy which, in turn, will create job opportunities.
The business of solar, wind and other energies has been improving faster than in the past, creating more job opportunities. However, this crisis has caused severe losses to many including investors, businesses and industries. This will drive them to make dreadful decisions to recover lost revenues fast. The resultant hunger can ramp up production associated with carbon emission growth, leading to degradation; and earth is most likely to be affected, more than it already is, with the effects of climate change. This human nature to profit will give birth to other pandemic viruses and disasters that keep us running in circles. Those vaguely interested in a cleaner and greener earth will tend to spend on easy money and easy energy that can cause rapid damage to the earth.
In order to protect earth from future pandemics, it is sagacious to conserve and improve ecology. Apart from this catastrophic virus-related pandemic, humanity will certainly face repercussions of climate change-related disasters that would wreak havoc on our economic, social and physical infrastructure. Viruses can be contained in the course of time by developing vaccines, but climate change-related disasters do not have any vaccines. Preventing emanation and origination of these kinds of pandemics requires research and development in the field of medicine as well as technologies with economic resources, highly skilled manpower and proficient management. The steps to be taken from now on should be aligned with balancing nature in terms of energy consumption, development, industrialisation and ecology.
We should take this pandemic as a lesson and seize this opportunity to change our way of doing business and consuming energy and non-renewable products, and prioritising our investment in renewables to preserve our earth and fight climate change. Providing the required facilities and encouraging people is the job of the government while it is the duty of every citizen to be aware of the negative effect that nature can cause due to our ignorance and fixation on cheap non-renewable energy. This will create job opportunities for the many who have been deprived of employment and those who had to leave their jobs because of the lockdown. The renewables sector can bring about enormous profits not only in a clean environment but also in sustainable development, job opportunities, advancement in livelihood and economic benefit. In the long term, investment in renewables at this moment of crisis can be a boon to Nepal and even to our neighbours with surplus renewable energy.
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