Written by on February 23, 2023

A twitter post claiming that renewable energy is more harmful to the environment than fossil fuels is false.

“Renewable energy is more harmful to the environment than fossil fuels,” states the claim.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, fossil fuels including oil, coal and natural gas are more harmful compared to renewable energy in several measures. These include damage to public health, water use, air and water pollution, land use, wildlife and habitat loss, as well as global warming emissions.

The 2019 Production Gap report states that fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal are the biggest contributors to global climate change, accounting for more than 75% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions and about 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The World Health Organization data indicates that almost 99% of people around the world still breathe dirty and unhealthy air, and over 13 million deaths around the world per annum are as a result of environmental causes, and that includes air pollution. Air pollution from fossil fuels accumulated health and economic costs of $2.9 trillion, which is about $8 billion a day.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), approximately $5.9 trillion was spent in the year 2020 in injecting subsidies into the fossil fuel industry. This was done through tax breaks, explicit subsidies, as well as health and environmental damages that originally weren’t priced into the fossil fuel cost. In comparison, the  International Energy Agency reports that to achieve net-zero emissions by the year 2050, then about $4 trillion needs to be invested yearly in renewable energy till 2030, and these include investment in technology and infrastructure. Reduction in pollution can save the world up to $4.2 trillion per year by 2030.

Renewable energy, more so wind power, has fewer impacts compared to other projects, and falls at the bottom of the lists of projects that adversely affect the environment and wildlife. According to Inspire Clean Energy, any type of energy source definitely has consequences on the environment and the people at large. However, comparing renewable sources to fossil fuels, and performing a cost-benefit analysis, despite the renewable sources having environmental impacts, their benefits outweigh their environmental impacts.

We looked into this claim stating that renewable energy is more harmful to the environment than fossil fuels and found it to be false. 

This fact-check was produced by Sky 106.1 FM with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance network.

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