Climate change, Russian aggression, and soaring cost-of-living: How renewable energy can help solve three major crises – Scotsman comment

We are currently facing three major crises: climate change, Russian military aggression, and sharp rises in the cost of living driven by soaring fuel prices.

Renewable energy can drive down the price of energy, cut carbon emissions and reduce the power of despots like Vladimir Putin (Picture: William Edwards/AFP via Getty Images)
Renewable energy can drive down the price of energy, cut carbon emissions and reduce the power of despots like Vladimir Putin (Picture: William Edwards/AFP via Getty Images)

Finding solutions to all three will involve careful consideration of complex problems and more than a few hard choices.

However, there is one thing we can do that would help deal with all three: massively expand our supplies of renewable energy.

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The benefits for climate change are obvious: in order to stop global warming from getting out of hand, we need to stop putting vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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It is perhaps less clear why a windfarm could help stymie Vladimir Putin’s dreams of building a new Russian empire.

However, Russia is the world’s third largest producer of fossil fuels and has the second largest gas reserves. Without the tax revenues and exports from the sector, Putin could not afford to pay for an army anything like the size of the one posed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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And, if the rest of Europe reduced its dependency on Russian gas, they would be able to take a more robust approach when confronting Putin. For decades, the West has done deals with tyrannical regimes, putting aside concerns about human rights, solely because they controlled large amounts of oil.

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A country largely powered by its own renewables would have ironclad energy security and also be free from such pressure to compromise on its values, with potentially dangerous consequences.

Furthermore, as the Climate Change Committee, which advises the UK and Scottish governments, has pointed out, increasing the amount of renewables is a good way to protect consumers from high energy prices.

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It said that if the UK government had already met its goal of having 40 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, the typical energy bill would be £100 less, while increasing UK fossil fuel production would do little to reduce the price because these are globally traded commodities.

In 2013, then Prime Minister David Cameron’s answer to rising energy bills was to “get rid of the green crap”. According to the award-winning Carbon Brief website, total UK energy bills are now about £2.5 billion higher than they would have been if those “crap” policies had been retained.

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It’s time to see that as the historic mistake it was.

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