Sustainable energy solution is a fundamental factor for sustainable development for any country's economy. For the first time in 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development discussed the challenges of energy and sustainable development.
The issue of energy was highlighted in Agenda 21 which stated that the current level of energy consumption and production is not sustainable. Moreover, the area of energy was not included in the Millennium Development Goals.
In 2001, the 9th Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-9), highlighted the factors about the role of alternative energy sources. In 2002 The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), organised at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and interconnected energy context as subject matter for sustainable development.
Energy for Sustainable Development was focused on a cluster of thematic issues during the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)-14 and 15, held in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
In 2012, the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All was declared by the UN General Assembly and also highlighted the problems and possible solution for sustainable energy solution.
In 2014, the resolution by the UN General Assembly declared 2014 – 2024 the United Nations Decades of Sustainable Energy for All (UN).
In 2015 the Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals was adopted by the UN General Assembly which declared SDG #7 to "ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all."
There has been an increase in trend of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission worldwide due to anthropogenic activities which indicates a substantial increase in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
According to IPCC, carbon dioxide is the most dominant greenhouse gas which accounted 77 percent of the total global GHG emission where CH4, NO2 and other gases contributed 14 percent, 8 percent and 1 percent respectively.
So, the additional CO2 accumulation means more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which generates more environmental pollution and is responsible for climate change and global warming.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that Asia, Europe and the United States are mainly responsible for 82 percent of the total global emissions.
Bangladesh is a densely populated and growing South Asian economy. With impressive economic growth and large population size, the use of energy is increasing over the year for the expansion of the economy and population demand.
Although Bangladesh produces very limited percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions, recently CO2 emission it is increasing due to additional demand for energy.
So it is high time to think about backstop for renewable energy consumption, which can be one sustainable solution for energy resources.
Nowadays developing countries are starting to use renewable energy as an alternative to non-renewable energy. Moreover, with the growing prominence of sustainable development, the roles of energy consumption on economic growth have appeared to be perceived as an important contribution to sustainable growth and energy security.
To ensure sustainable economic growth and energy solution following immediate measures are suggested to take for minimising greenhouse gas emission related to environmental pollution, climate change and global warming.
Firstly, to ensure sustainable economic growth; energy resources should be used in such a way that meets the need of the present generation as well as the future generation and for keeping the resource-limited stock sustain it is also essential to ensure the use of renewable energy resources more than non-renewable energy resources.
It is high time to think about the energy consumption pattern of the country because only renewable energy consumption can bridge the gap between economic growth and environmental protection.
Secondly, subsidies to renewable and low carbon energy technologies can bring long term economic and environmental benefits. According to OECD, subsidies to renewable energy can generally consider more environmentally beneficial than fossil fuel.
This type of subsidies can be direct cash transfers or different support mechanisms, such as tax rebates, price controls and so on to the related bodies. The government can also introduce phrase-out of fossil fuel and carbon-neutral fuel subsidies.
Thirdly, different types of energy conservation projects such as energy storage, green buildings, heat pump, low carbon power, passive solar building designs; microgeneration and so on can be promoted to reduce the consumption of energy.
Fourthly, the government can charge carbon price as carbon pricing is a cost of the price charged for carbon pollution to discourage polluters to produce greenhouse gases which they made into the atmosphere.
So this effective method can encourage producers to use more renewable resources rather than non-renewable resources.
Fifthly, the government can promote sustainable or eco-friendly transportation system. Electric vehicles green vehicles and plug-in-hybrid can be the ultimate solutions for sustainable transport. Sustainable transport not only will help to reduce greenhouse gas emission but also will help to save energy.
Finally, direct government-financed research and development (R&D) is another obvious area of importance. The government should spend more money on research and development sectors which are related to renewable and energy efficiency.
We are now spending the decade of sustainable energy for all; so this is the high time to minimise fossil fuel emission and use renewable resources as a backstop of non-renewable resources only then we may able to find a sustainable economy.
Sadia Islam is an Assistant Professor at Dhaka School of Economics.