Talks on climatic changes in the global spectrum have received United Nations (UN) intervention in a bid to find the lasting solution of the problem. It is for this reason that the UN held talks in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Bali Conference in 2007, the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, and the recently concluded Durban Conference in 2012. These conferences bring on board the political leaders under the UN charter to discuss policy issues that would address the problems, associated with climate change. The nations are attempting to unravel critical concepts that would sustain human activities via networking, political campaigns, and regulatory measures. Climate change results from the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which in turn deplete the ozone layer. Therefore, winning the war on climatic changes must begin with addressing the consumption of fossil fuels. In the Western economies, securing sustainability of energy future is a possibility given the technological options and created in the Green Goals. This research paper, therefore, develops the sustainability of primary energy sources by quantitatively assessing the social, local, and energy indicators and their influence on achieving green goals.
In this research, social, energy, and local indicators are defined in a bid to develop a precondition for assessing the success of the indicators in reducing the emission of GHGs; hence, reverse the escalating climatic changes that affect the ecological balance of Mother Nature. The measure of social indicators, as stated by Carrera and Mack, was developed on the desire to evaluate the quality of life (1031). The framework developed to assess the social factors is referred to as Social Impact Assessment (SIA), a methodology that fosters, plans, and implements social interventions.
On the other hand, the local indicators can be understood in the sustainability of social, economic, and environmental aspects. Local indicators identify ways in which the qualities of interactions among social, economic, and environmental parameters would be used in a manner that would be beneficial to their co-existence. In this paper, the definition of local indicators will imply urban strategies that qualify as Sustainable Development Indicators (SDI).
The use of energy indicators can be varied depending on the desired issues to be analyzed. For instance, the use of Life Cycle Assessment, (LCA) and analysis of case studies can develop trends to describe the use of fossil energy, secondary energy, and cumulative demand for energy from the total extracted energy. The use of energy indicators is important to meet the needs for industrialization, due to the growing demand for fuel in the global sphere. The needs for consumption of fossil fuel in turn affect the ozone layer, leading to climatic changes.
It is evident from the background recoup that the various apply different models to assess. This research will therefore analyze the results of the three indicators found out by other scholars with the intent to quantitatively analyze their findings.
Local and social indicators
In the study of Tanguay, Rajaonson, and Lefebvre involving quantitative analysis of 17 different researches, the authors found out that 188 indicators affected social, environment, and economic parameters among the cities surveyed (477). The results obtained from the study were as summarized below:
Environmental conservation is among the most pressing issues addressed by humankind in the wake of new climatic challenges. The threat poses concerns for human survival. These threats have necessitated the development of initiatives to foster environment conservation, like the campaign on wise use of energy and sustainability of energy sources. It is therefore in order to carry out environmental impact assessment for initiated projects in any particular region. Environmental impact assessment is important for scientific analysis to ascertain whether a project fits or would be a nuisance to the survival of a given region.
Environmental impact assessment can be carried out using two different strategies. One is based on direct quantification of expert judgments on an ordinary scale. The other strategy is based on quantification of environmental impact using indicators. However, in this strategy all stakeholders involved should agree upon the validity and reliability of indicators. According to Bauer “The tradition of social indicator research has always been guided by the questions of how to measure the quality of life and how factors influencing the quality of life can be adequately assessed,” (qtd. in Carrera and Mack 1031)
In a series of indicators, used to analyze environmental impact assessment of different energy generation project, Carrera and Mack found out that there were perceived catastrophic potential of the indicators (1035). Expert evaluation showed psychometric variance. The experts gave high value of catastrophic potential to nuclear power, which stood at 4.77 as compared to carbon separation at an average of 3.12. Hydropower received a mean of 2.71, while coal power steam had a mean of 2.45. Solar power had a mean of 1.32, while gas turbine received 2.32 mean.
Table Showing Energy Form, Catastrophic Potential Mean and Percentage
Validation of indicators is very important since it guarantees quality, reliability in environmental and social impact assessment (Cloquell-Ballester, Vicente-Agustín and Cloquell-Ballester 81). In this process, expert opinions form the foundation of this analysis. The attainment of consensus of 89% in the scientific stage and 83% in social stage is critical in validation process. In the analysis of local indicators, availability of electricity commands a mean of 4.6, while availability of communication media has a mean of 4.75. On the other hand, availability of transport commands a mean of 4.75, while working climate mean stands at 4.25. Cloquell-Ballester, Vicente-Agustín and Cloquell-Ballester note these results have a conceptual coherence index of 32%, operational coherence index of 45%, and utility index is 23% (95).From the table above it is visible that nuclear power has got a high percentage of catastrophic potential mean of occurrence at 29.8, while solar power has the lowest percentage at 8.3%, in the analysis of the six forms of energy production forms. As a result, environmental impact assessment on the possibility of setting up a nuclear power station would be difficult to implement. due to high catastrophic impact it has on the environment. On the other hand, nuclear energy is the cleanest form of energy that can generate energy to sustain the high demand for power. This standoff between the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy is still a nuisance to political administration, more so, after the tsunami had hit the Japanese nuclear plant.
Findings of the study
From the data presented above, it is clear that the classification of the indicators as, social, environmental, or local is overlapping. This occurs because some parameters that constitute local indicators could also fall under energy indicators. From the study on local indicators, the leading factor is environment, followed by social and economic factors respectively. This observation concurs with experts’ weariness of catastrophic results that nuclear energy would bring if implemented. In addition, the economic factors seem to be less considered, regardless of the potential of other energy sources that require hefty financial investment in the short-term but would substantially cut on the level of GHGs emission in the long-term. Arvidson, Fransson, and Froling observe, “The differentiation between fund-type resources, such as biomass, and flow-type resources, such as solar energy, may be relevant from a resource depletion perspective” (60).
Another significant finding of Tanguay and Rajaonson’s study in that the percentage of indicators used both times stand at 71.2%, while those that are used five or more times constitute only 12.8% of the total indicators. This is a show of how the non-renewable sources of energy are used in modern production, if compared to renewable energy. The challenge remains for world leaders to continue with the quest for renewable sources of energy as the mainstream energy source. Given that the experts fear the catastrophic nature of nuclear energy, more research should be dedicated towards wind and solar energy, which are not only clean but have also a low risk factor in the course of production.
The main limitation for this research is the fact that the use of indicators overlap in quantitative data. The results posted, therefore, would be pegged on different scenarios presented by the researchers. Nonetheless, there is an agreement from the studies that sustainability of energy sources should be viewed in two dimensions: the catastrophic nature of the sources and the ability to reduce GHGs. This rules out the benefits of nuclear energy; hence, energy summits should concentrate on measures to put in place in order to accumulate the hefty capital, needed to invest in solar and wind energies.