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Throughout the world, nations have been progressively adopting green initiatives in an effort to promote resource sustainability. Greenhouse gas emissions have significantly increased over the last century, and climate change threatens global ecosystems. Scarcity of water and rare earth minerals pose additional threats. Without question, environmentally conscious policies are needed to address these threats, and sooner rather than later. But that doesn’t mean countries should dive in blindly into green policies without due consideration. Challenges of going green abound, as evidenced by a number of current green energy failures. Unless a more realistic approach is considered, such policies will impose much greater costs than benefits.

The climate and resource dilemmas present today didn’t develop overnight. They have gradually developed over many decades. Green movement enthusiasts are naturally quick to point out that these issues are on an accelerated trajectory. But this doesn’t prove that adopting overly aggressive green policies provides a reasonable solution. Where such approaches have been pursued, the outcomes have been dismal. This not only includes instances of green energy failures but likewise devastating situations that are threatening entire societies. The challenges of going green are real, and it’s time we took a more long-term perspective in green policy initiatives.

Sri Lanka – A Case of Too Green, Too Fast

Not all issues with green initiatives involve green energy failures. Sri Lanka is a great case in point. In April of 2021, the nation’s prime minister implemented a total and complete ban on chemical fertilizer. Touted as an effort to be responsible in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, leaders believed it was positive. But without a backup plan to support the 2 million farmers in the country, the challenges of going green soon appeared. Today, Sri Lanka is in political upheaval, and a third of the nation’s farms are dormant. Despite its near perfect ESG score of 98, it is unclear how the country and its people will survive.

(Read more about ESG’s in this Bold explainer!)

When the Sri Lankan fertilizer ban went into effect, roughly 90% of all farms used chemical fertilizer. As a result, Sri Lanka has suffered an 85% export reduction in crops. More specifically, rice production has fallen 20% with its price increasing 50% in value. Once self-sufficient in producing this grain, the country now imports $450 million of rice. And the country’s tea exports, which previously totaled $1.3 billion, paid for more than 70% of Sri Lanka’s imports. That is no longer the case as tea production has also declined substantially. Today, over 500,000 additional Sri Lankans have fallen into poverty as food, fuel, and transportation costs have soared. Challenges of going green always exist, but as Sri Lanka shows, going green too fast dramatically intensifies the problems.

Europe’s Renewable Energy Dilemma

Many of the challenges of going green suffered by countries today relate to green energy failures. At the current time, several countries are experiencing such struggles based on green energy policies they’ve pursued. Many nations have purposefully invested heavily in renewable energies like wind, solar and hydroelectric. These efforts are highly valuable, offering opportunities to create a more sustainable and diversified energy portfolio. But here again, green policies have pursued renewable energy options too aggressively at the expense of other energy sources. Specifically, many nations throughout Europe have sacrificed coal and nuclear energy resources in the process. This has placed them in a vicarious situation today as a result.

A bunch of solar panels working on their tan
One of the biggest challenges of going green is economic collapse… so be careful of that.

In recent months, Russia has cut natural gas supplies to several European nations. This has caused significant increases in energy prices as a result and created an energy supply crisis. In Germany, which previously operated 18 nuclear plants providing a third of its electricity, is now suffering greatly. The country only has three such plants today and plans to close them in the future in favor of renewables. France, which has limited coal supplies, previously relied on nuclear power for 70% of its electric needs. And the UK, which is not reliant on Russia, is continuing to subsidize green energy initiatives that’s escalating energy prices. Green energy failures are everywhere, but few are acknowledging them.

The Truth About Green Energy

The problem is that the challenges of going green are being underestimated by nations throughout the world. Green energy failures are not only occurring in Europe but in Australia and the US as well. But despite pursuing renewable energy and green initiatives, policies change when push comes to shove. When electricity needs rise, countries will do whatever they must to meet their energy needs. That is why Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland have all increased coal use in recent months. It’s also why coal continues to be the largest source of electricity generation in the world. Green energy failures force nations to fall back on reliable, cost-effective energy resources. And these challenges of going green won’t disappear overnight.

In terms of green energy failures, renewable sources have inherent problems that limit their potential. Intermittency and inconsistency are one of the most problematic challenges of going green. This is particularly true for wind and solar energy production. In addition, generation of renewable energy requires high-cost resources such as concrete, copper, and steel. This is why subsidies are usually required and why energy prices for renewable are usually high. Then, there is an ever-constrained access to available land resources for generating renewable energy. This is not to say renewable and sustainable energy shouldn’t be pursued. But green energy failures are prevalent, and reliance on these alone is simply not practical.

Idealism Must Yield to Realism

Green initiatives are essential when it comes to protecting the environment and securing resources for the future. But at the same time, current challenges of going green are too abundant to simply ignore. That means a more gradual and methodical approach is essential. It also means investing in natural gas, coal and nuclear energy is essential to meet global energy demands. And it means suddenly banning non-ESG practices completely is dangerous. By taking this approach, green energy failures and human suffering will become an ever-increasing norm. Instead, a more realistic strategy is needed in order to move in a direction that’s safer and more practical. Green is good, but too much green too quickly is a recipe for disaster.

 

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