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Community discusses transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy

Markus Distelrath/Pixabay
Renewable energy sources are being used at an increasing rate across the world, according to Irena. Community members discussed the benefits and drawbacks of the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

For Model United Nations Club Co-President Aris Perrotis (’25), the recent rise in renewable energy goes beyond the climate crisis. Perrotis said implementing renewable energy sources can increase various countries’ self-reliance.

“The prospect of renewable energy is fantastic for countries dependent on other nations for oil because it gives them greater autonomy in the actions they take politically,” Perrotis said.

Despite their usefulness, Perrotis said fossil fuels cannot be the planet’s only adequate energy source due to their limited supply.

“We cannot just rely on fossil fuels for another important reason, which is that we don’t have an infinite supply of fossil fuels,” Perrotis said. 

Furthermore, Social Justice Council Co-President Jemma Granite (’25) said although she favors the switch to clean energy, she recognizes the economic limitations some nations may face. 

“Cleaner energy sources are expensive,” Granite said. “This is a problem when it comes to countries with less developed economies that may not be able to afford clean energy.”

Granite said the shift to renewable energy sources is a “very useful tactic” when working to improve global sustainability but also hopes that all countries can access them. 

“It is really important that every nation … has an equal opportunity to use it,” Granite said. “It is more the responsibility of these more developed nations because they happen to be the ones that are causing most of the [climate] damage.”

Similarly, Sustainability Council member Sofia Salloum (’26), who takes part in the council’s sub-section focusing on energy, said well-developed nations play an important role in assisting underdeveloped countries in the transition to renewable energy.

“Countries like the U.K. and the U.S. should definitely be looking towards helping other countries that are currently in an energy crisis and [invest] in renewable energy for them,” Salloum said. “While it might be difficult at the moment, it is really important for … setting the foundation for the future of these nations that do need support to get back on their feet after energy shortages and other problems.” 

Alternatively, Investment Club Co-President Bassel Ojjeh (’25) said the global transition away from fossil fuels will not occur as quickly as commonly anticipated.

“The whole world should embrace these new technologies, especially regarding green energy, with open arms,” Ojjeh said. “For all countries, fossil fuels are going to be extremely, extremely important for the next 50 years, and transitioning to a clean energy society is something that we will strive to make happen, but, realistically, will not happen to the extent that we wish for.”

Moreover, Thomas Baird, Senior Business Advisor to the CEO of Shell plc and former General Manager of Sustainability, said he does not see the demand for energy reducing any time soon.

“Unless everybody who already has electricity today is going to have unimaginably different qualities of life and stop doing everything they’re doing, demand for energy for those living in the world will stay significant,” Baird said.

Regardless, Baird said the role of gas in the energy transition can often be misunderstood and ignored.

“Gas, according to the International Energy Agency, IEA, has half of the CO2 emissions compared to coal when used to generate electricity and less than one tenth of the air pollutants,” Baird said. “So, when gasses indeed are used to replace coal in China, India and other parts of the world, that has a fundamental impact on addressing and tackling climate change.”

Still, as the world adopts renewable energy sources, Perrotis said possible consequences, specifically regarding pollution, emerge. 

“In terms of drawbacks, we need to analyze where we break even because in order to create these [new technologies] to harvest renewable energy, we need to emit a lot of pollution,” Perrotis said. “While we do need to move with urgency, I think we need to do one last check, or we need to be certain that this is the way going forward.”

Alongside implementing more sustainable energy sources, Ojjeh said major drawbacks, such as the wasting of fossil fuels, are important to consider. 

“Mining those resources is an incredibly expensive carbon cost,” Ojjeh said. “We have so much fossil fuel energy in the world, and to waste such a valuable resource would be foolish. You want to generate as much money as you can from that resource, and that is the reality.”

In addition, Salloum said governments should set goals that drive innovation and help make the clean energy transition more efficient while ensuring they can achieve the goals they are committing to. 

“Setting goals is really important … but is only one part of [the clean energy transition],” Salloum said. “If a nation and government set a goal, they need to actually put an action plan in place and start following through with it because if you just set fruitless goals into the future, then it’s not actually creating much of a change.” 

Ultimately, while acknowledging the climate crisis and the urgency of the matter, Baird said he thinks the positive progress already made in fostering a more sustainable world is often overlooked. 

“Sectors are learning from each other, individuals are learning from each other, countries are learning from each other and therefore, I’m quite heartened, actually, at the amount of progress that has already been made and the amount that’s to come,” Baird said, “It’s easy to feel a bit discombobulated and a bit disheartened about the state of the world and the lack of progress that’s been made, but I would actually argue that huge amounts of progress [has] been made.”

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About the Contributors
Alexander Sawan, Reporter
Alexander Sawan ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Journalistic Writing.
Meher Sareen, Reporter
Meher Sareen ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Journalistic Writing.

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