Edited by Natalie P. Stoianoff, Larry Kreiser, Bill Butcher, Janet E. Milne and Hope Ashiabor
Chapter 7: From fossil fuels to renewable energy: Subsidy reform and energy transition in African and Indian Ocean island states
Energy is key to prosperity and the discovery and use of fossil fuels in the past few centuries has generated tremendous wealth. Yet, this energy paradigm has now become a liability that threatens the very sustainability of all it enabled. Coal, petroleum and gas not only induce climate instability through emissions of greenhouse gases, but also entail numerous other economic, social and environmental externalities, adding up to a dangerously negative balance sheet. This chapter, a summary of a recent report, analyses the impacts of fossil fuel energy in the multiple dimensions of sustainability, modelling the relationships, externalities and opportunities that a transition to a new energy paradigm can offer, based on energy conservation, efficiency and low-carbon renewable sources. It first explores the ‘sustainability doughnut’ as an integrative model, which facilitates the overlaying of policy choices, including energy-related ones, with the economic, social and environmental sustainability impacts they have. This provides a cogent framework for the comparison of the fossil fuel and renewable energy paradigms, highlighting their costs and opportunities.
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