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It’s time clean energy becomes a reality

For years, people have ignored the ramifications of using highly carbon-intensive fuels under the pretense renewable energy was too expensive to be realistic. However, a New York Times article on Monday showed that argument will soon be obsolete.

In December, representatives from countries across the globe met at the very first climate summit in Paris to set goals for reducing the monumental negative impact humans have had on the Earth and make partnerships to ensure change is possible.

Renewable energy sources “made up 53.6 percent of the gigawatt capacity of all technologies installed in 2015, the first time it has represented a majority,” according to a United Nations report.

For the majority of the world, the question is no longer “does global warming exist?,” but rather “what can we do to save the Earth?”

Only a few small-minded individuals still deny the effect humans have on the planet by using fossil fuels to the detriment of our environment. While they sit in their air-conditioned homes in denial, the rest of the world is working to remedy our past mistakes.

Over $286 billion was invested worldwide in wind, solar and other renewable sources, more than half of which went to emerging markets such as India and Brazil.

The price of solar panels has fallen 61 percent between 2009 and 2015. The accounting firm KPMG announced its prediction that by 2020, solar energy in India will be 10 percent cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.

This is revolutionary and offers substantial hope for the future of an economic and sustainable tomorrow.

Countries such as India and China are home to heavily populated and polluted cities. Innovations such as affordable clean energy sources will help reduce the harmful pollutants detrimental to people’s health and allow the country to function without making budget cuts that could harm its citizens.

While there is still much progress needed for worldwide sustainability to become the norm, we’ve come a long way in the last few years to make such technology a reality.

As we continue to create new and improved methods of harnessing renewable energy, it is important that major countries such as the U.S. dedicate themselves to doing all they can to phase out fossil fuels.

In British Columbia, a carbon tax encourages citizens to use cleaner fuels and has reduced emissions by 5 to 15 percent while boosting the provincial economy.

“It performed better on all fronts than I think any of us expected,” said Mary Polak, the Canadian province’s environment minister. “To the extent that the people who modeled it predicted this, I’m not sure that those of us on the policy end of it really believed it.”

Other countries are beginning to adopt similar measures. For example, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed doubling the current tax on coal, and China is working to create a national emissions trading system, according to the New York Times.

However, the U.S. has yet to make any substantial policies to counter the use of fossil fuels within its borders.

Hopefully, with the realization that renewable energy sources are quickly becoming affordable and in some cases cheaper than damaging fuels, the U.S. will take its spot among the global leaders and fight to renovate its energy sources.

If the U.S. doesn’t make clean energy a priority despite having preached sustainability for years, why should anyone else?