Net Zero: Cost Effective Solutions With Minimal Environmental Impact
Municipalities: Net zero planning will lead to a detailed assessment of the energy supply and demand.
Consumers: By choosing renewable they can reduce energy costs by foregoing financial risks associated with fossil fuel pricing and supply volatility.
Energy Sector: A cleaner energy sector can also lead to a more resilient energy system that can more readily withstand future extreme weather events.
Investments: Capital pumped into net zero strategies will lead to local energy production, which will boost the economy and ensure a good return on investments. Investments in renewable energy can help to build an economy with green jobs.
Net zero planning has heightened economic development in cities and towns globally. With the best example displayed by Växjö (Sweden) whose GDP grew by 90% in the decades following the city’s net zero commitment.
As suggested by NRDC Growth (2019), the renewable energy market is a major opportunity to achieve India’s goals for job expansion and economic growth while meeting climate targets. Solar and wind energy jobs grew an impressive five-fold in the past five years in India.
Clean energy clearly has a place in the economy, and municipalities and citizens are well positioned to take advantage of this.
ENVIRONMENTAL & PUBLIC HEALTH BENEFITS
Quite definitely there are several (short term and long term) Environmental benefits associated with the net zero pathway. Net zero planning and adoption will help address various sources of pollution that power plants, industrial facilities, and cars release:
The Common pollutants we mention here are of grave environmental and physical health concern such as Nitrous Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (SOx), and Particulate Matter 2.5 & 10 (PM 2.5 & PM 10). Through net zero planning these all can be mitigated.
NOx reacts to sunlight to produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), smog, or tropospheric ozone which can hamper breathing and aggravate asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
SOx after undergoing a similar fate as NOx in contact with sunlight produces acid rain and gravely impacts public health. PM 2.5 and PM 10 are microscopic particles that can travel through airways and affect those with chronic illnesses.
A variety of epidemiologic based studies has provided evidence of a relationship between short-term (daily) exposures to particle pollution and a number of respiratory-related diseases such as:
Higher frequency of emergency department visits
Higher frequency of Hospital admissions
Worse still, people with pre-existing diseases are at the greatest risk for potential respiratory-related health effects due to short-term particle exposures
Moreover, energy generated from fossil fuels typically requires large amounts of water. According WRI India, Power generation is expected to account for nearly 9% of the national water consumption by 2050 (in a business-as-usual scenario) – growing from 1.4% in 2025 (Central Water Commission, 2015). By increasing energy efficiency and clean energy, water use can be drastically minimized.
Longer-term environmental benefits include minimizing climate change impacts such as:
Sea level rise
Storm frequency and volatility.
Green Infrastructure is a multi-benefit tool that can be utilized to effectively:
Mitigate storm water runoff
Improve air quality through reduced smog and particulate pollution
Lessen habitat erosion
Reduce urban heat island impacts
Serving as a carbon sink