Energy - Climate Change Nexus: The Role of Youth by Mirana Andriarisoa
The threats of Climate change have been seen as the biggest challenge to human existence until the outbreak of the novel COVID19 pandemic. While the latter appears to contribute to reducing the effects of the former, they are both global emergencies that need adequate attention in order to save current and future generations. One could barely imagine the kind of world we will live in if the pandemic is prolonged. But I remain sanguine and also cognizant of the much-needed work to be accomplished for all and sundry to live on a better planet.
Many people still underestimate the threatening impacts of climate change and are not conscious that it is a determinant of our survival or extinction. The climate emergency to me is very real to say the least and I will endeavor to prevent the catastrophe that awaits us rather than cast doubt and do nothing. My country Madagascar is an island in the Indian ocean popular for its biodiversity and rear species on the planet and its unique geographic location makes it an attractive touristic destination. However, it is one of the most vulnerable countries to the looming climate change effects.
Growing up as a child, I used to spend my holiday with my grandfather in the village where the population do not have access to electricity and still rely on kerosene and candles for lighting and firewood for cooking. Indeed, only 16% of the Malagasy population currently has access to electricity.
My childhood experience sparked my interest towards rural development, particularly rural electrification. At the time, the most important for me was just to bring electricity to villages but as long as I grew up and see the effects of climate change impacting our agriculture and daily lives, I started being aware that it has to be done in a sustainable manner. There started my passion for developing green energy, not only in Madagascar but globally.
During the last few decades, energy use has been proven to be the dominant cause of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that in 2018, 89% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuel and industry. With such alarming statistics, reform in the energy sector is definitely necessary and urgent to address climate change. The Sustainable Development goal 7 is targeting to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Yet, currently, close to 600 million Africans still do not have access to electricity (IEA, 2019). However, the continent is very rich in terms of renewable energy sources. Africa is blessed with excellent solar radiation than any part of the globe, but this remains largely unexploited just like hydro. Only around 10% of the continent’s hydro potential is currently being exploited. There is also considerable wind potential in coastal regions as well as geothermal in the East African rift valley. In this light, the rational exploitation and management of that huge renewable energy potential would be the cornerstone for the sustainable development of Africa. A reform in the energy sector is not only an important pillar for economic growth and for raising the living standard of the population, but also valuable for the environment and the planet.
As the world goes green through the energy transition, it presents ample opportunities to Youth all around the globe. It is high time governments and international organizations invested more in youth education, support resourceful youth creativity and promote youth research and innovation in the promising field of renewable energy. The present and the future of our planet is relying considerably on the actions of young people. We should therefore rather not be passive youth that will allow our future to be determined while we take a nap but should take active and participatory roles in changing the world and make it a better place.
With increased consciousness about the urgency of climate change among the youth, leading change can start from whatever level. For us at the Pan African University Climate Change and Gender Club (PCCGC) where I was president till 2019, we are working on raising awareness and advocacy on climate action and researching in the fields of energy and water towards building a climate-resilient Africa. We also take into account the gender aspect of climate change. Our club is comprised of committed young people from more than 30 different African countries who are determined to bring their contributions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Currently, apart from online environmental sensitization, we are conducting research on the design and promotion of solar cookers in Africa and also plan to work on more research in line with energy-water-climate nexus. We are driven by the aspiration to make the world a better place and it is our contention that our action today determines our future and the future of our children.
About the Author
Mirana N. Andriarisoa is a young economist from Madagascar, passionate in energy-climate change nexus. She is currently a Master student in Energy policy at the Pan African University for Water and Energy Sciences, including climate change (PAUWES) in Algeria where she is a former president of the Pan African University Climate Change and Gender Club. Mirana is an ambassador at the African Youth Climate Hub as well. (firstname.lastname@example.org)