In late 2015, the international community agreed upon the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending world hunger and poverty as well as achieving gender equality, and adopting sustainable energy, among others. At the World Future Energy Summit in January 2016, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke of the importance of adopting sustainable energy, not only to limit climate change, but also to save millions of lives each year by limiting extreme weather.
The U.N. has reported that pollution caused by indoor stoves that use fire, coal, charcoal, or animal waste could account for as many as 4.3 million premature deaths annually. At the January 2016 summit, Ban noted that climate change disproportionately affects women and children, because they are the ones most directly exposed to these stoves and open flames. Furthermore, “It is women and girls who bear the brunt of collecting firewood and fuels,” argues Ban, activities that “limit their work and education opportunities.”
By adopting sustainable energy technologies we could also forestall major weather-related disasters. In the past two decades, thousands of extreme weather disasters occurred, resulting in an estimated 606,000 deaths and 4.1 billion people left injured, homeless, or in need of emergency assistance. The U.N. estimated that these natural disasters have cost between five to six trillion dollars. Along with saving millions of lives a year, adopting sustainable energy technologies could also provide more access to electricity around the world, as an estimated one billion people do not have access to electricity.
Ban Ki-moon has called on governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses around the world to take action on climate change, declaring, “Sustainable energy is the thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and our efforts to combat climate change.”
Source: Ben Norton, “Adopting Sustainable Energy Would Save Millions of Lives Each Year, U.N. Says,” Salon. January 26, 2016, http://www.salon.com/2016/01/26/adopting_sustainable_energy_would_save_millions_of_lives_each_year_u_n_says/.
Student Researcher: Alex Olson (College of Marin)
Faculty Researcher: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)