Monthly Archives: February 2019

Should We Switch The Language of Climate Crisis Away From “Renewables?”

Switch from ‘Renewable’ to ‘Actual Measurable Impacts of each Technology’

Abandoning the term “renewable energy” may help the fight against climate change, say Atte Harjanne and Janne M. Korhonen in an article in the journal Energy Policy. While it might seem somewhat futile to try to dramatically transform discourse that is so deeply ingrained within a field, the authors say that we must acknowledge the collective global failure in mitigating climate change alongside the institutionalized concepts that seem to have played a role in that failure.

The researchers analyzed the history of the concept of renewable energy, and many examples of problematic issues regarding its use emerged. With an institutional theory framework that focuses on problems inherent with the vocabulary of climate change rather than the science itself, the authors discuss how specific energy generation methods commonly described as “renewable” can hide the complexities of alternative policy options. The authors’ argument centers on the great diversity of renewable energy sources, leading to the conclusion that lumping all renewable technologies together can limit the more valuable comparisons of the benefits and disadvantages of different energy generation methods in a variety of situations.

Harjanne, a doctoral researcher at Aalto University School of Business in Finland, acknowledges that climate change is “the most pressing issue of our time. Rather than focusing on renewables, we should be looking at the actual measurable impacts of each technology.” The report suggests that climate change language should be used that describes low carbon content in the energy generating process and the lowest possible levels of combustion as the 2 key favorable factors for any technology. Read More

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