In 2015 the United Nations (UN) Member States agreed on a fifteen-year sustainable development plan that hopes to solve a series of global economic, social and environmental issues.
The universal ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable development’ has a total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The UN describes them as an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership.
Sustainable Marine’s mission is closely aligned with a number of SDGs, including SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 13 Climate Action.
Here, we explore the key themes of these individual global goals, and why emerging renewable energy technology such as tidal power will play a crucial role for a sustainable future.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
According to the UN, energy accounts for 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The reduction of these gasses is key to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, and will be driven by the green energy transition. Key targets for SDG 7 include substantially increasing the percentage of renewable energy globally. Also, enhancing international cooperation by promoting investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology for all developing countries by 2030.
The rapid growth in renewable energy technologies such as hydropower, wind, and solar is already making a difference. In 2016, the global share of renewable energy almost reached 17.5 percent. Further technological advancements and scaled growth are further helping to drive down costs. If this trend continues, it will enable renewable energy to provide affordable energy for all.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
Economic growth is heavily dependent on industrial development and manufacturing. This has been on a steady decline due to tariffs and trade tensions, and further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to online work and education during the pandemic has been essential to keeping people safe. While this has provided a catalyst for more digitally accessible infrastructure, developing countries still have a long way to go when it comes to internet accessibility - where circa 19% of people benefiting from access to the internet.
Investment in new sustainable industries and infrastructure across developing countries will drive economic growth and innovation. At the same time, it will also have a positive effect on the environment and stimulate greater international trade.
In 2019, developing countries and developed countries invested $152.2 billion and $130 billion respectively in renewable industries.
Some of SDG 9’s concrete targets include doubling the sustainable industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product in developing countries, while upgrading infrastructure to increase resource-use efficiency. We will witness a major push in the next decade for universal and affordable access to the internet in the least developed countries.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Although cities occupy only 3% of Earth’s land, they account for 60 to 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emission.
Around 9 out of 10 people living in urban areas are breathing air that does not meet the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. Currently, 3.5 billion people live in cities today, and this number is estimated to go up to 5 billion by 2030.
Renewable energy will play a big role in reducing carbon emissions. SDG 11 targets are designed to ensure access to basic services, affordable housing, and sustainable transport systems for all. As well as reducing environmental impact per capita, with a focus on air quality and waste management. A renewable focus of urbanization will help the environment, encourage economic growth, and better quality of life.
SDG 13: Climate Action
Since 1990 global carbon dioxide emissions have doubled. 2010 to 2019 was the warmest decade ever recorded. We are already seeing the effects of the rising temperatures with weather events affected more than 39 million people in 2018. Wildfires, droughts, and floods have also been prevalent in recent years.
To limit rises in global warming to 1.5C - in line on the Paris Agreement - greenhouse gas emissions must fall 7.6% each year from 2020. Investment in renewable energy has been rising, amounting to $681 billion in 2016. The same year fossil fuel investment amounted to $781 billion. Greater investment and resources will speed up the renewable energy revolution to reduce fossil fuel usage and realise the Paris Agreement ambitions.
It is widely recognised that we require a worldwide sustainable transformation of our energy, industry, infrastructure, cities, transport, and agriculture systems.