The Renewable Energy Transition: Debunking the Myth of Harm to the Planet

A comprehensive analysis reveals that a rapid transition to renewable energy will bring significant benefits and minimize harm to the planet.

As the world grapples with the escalating impacts of climate change, the urgency for ambitious climate action has never been greater. The rise in floods, fires, and heatwaves has underscored the need for a rapid transition to renewable energy sources. However, a growing narrative suggests that this transition itself will cause harm to the planet. This article aims to debunk this myth and shed light on the true impacts of a renewable energy transition.

Assessing the Global Impacts

A team of scientists from the World Wildlife Fund and Boston Consulting Group conducted a comprehensive study to assess the global impacts of achieving a rapid renewable energy transition. The study examined metrics across various categories and compared the impacts of a renewable future to a business-as-usual fossil energy scenario.

Land and Mining Impacts

Contrary to popular belief, the study found that a renewable future would have significantly fewer negative impacts on land and mining compared to business-as-usual fossil energy use. The total amount of land affected would be 30 percent less, and mining would be reduced. These unexpected results challenge the narrative that renewable energy projects will cause extensive land disruption.

Health and Well-being Benefits

One of the most compelling arguments for a renewable energy transition lies in the significant health and well-being benefits it offers. The study revealed that a renewable future would lead to a dramatic reduction in air pollution, resulting in air pollutants being 60 to 90 percent lower compared to business-as-usual scenarios. This improvement in air quality would lead to an 86 percent decrease in death and disability due to air pollution, benefiting global human health.

Climate Disruption and Safety

The study also highlighted the stark difference in climate disruption between a renewable future and a business-as-usual scenario. The latter would expose three times more people to heat stress and flood risk. In contrast, a renewable future would provide greater safety for hundreds of millions of people and create nearly three times as many energy jobs, benefiting tens of millions.

Balancing Impacts and Minimizing Conflict

While the renewable energy transition offers a better future, it is crucial to acknowledge the real impacts it may have on communities and ecosystems. The report emphasized the importance of careful planning and implementation to minimize these impacts. It suggested strategies such as choosing low-conflict areas for development, utilizing abandoned mines and agricultural waste for renewable projects, and adopting large-scale planning processes to balance conservation outcomes.


The renewable energy transition is not without its challenges, but the narrative that it will harm the planet is unfounded. The study’s findings reveal that a rapid transition to renewable energy sources brings significant benefits, from improved air quality and human health to enhanced safety and job creation. While it is essential to address the impacts on communities and ecosystems, inclusive and transparent decision-making can turn potential conflicts into collaborations that secure a healthier and safer future. As leaders gather for the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference, it is imperative that they double down on their commitments to a renewable future and pave the way for a sustainable planet.






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