Half of all power plants built in 2014 were green

Half of all power plants built in 2014 were green

Humans must drastically curb carbon emissions in the coming decades or face environmental catastrophe, as temperatures are expected to climb by the end of the century to levels that scientists predict would radically alter the earth’s climate.

Luckily, the transition from an economy powered by coal, oil and gas to one running on renewables and low-carbon alternatives has already begun, as shown in a series of recent reports.

 

Forecasts for the future

Half of all power plants built last year produced green energy, in what is one of the “clear signs that an energy transition is underway,” the International Energy Agency announced in its World Energy Outlook 2015.

Renewables are now the second-largest source of electricity after coal and are set to overtake it as the largest source of electricity generation by the early 2030s, according to the report by the 28-country energy policy organization. By 2040, the European Union is expected to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewables, China and Japan should hit 30 percent, and the U.S. and India should both surpass 25 percent.

 

The decline of coal

The global coal boom is slowing, a new report says, as more plans for new power plants are being shelved than completed.

The number of cancelled coal projects across the world has outstripped those completed at a rate of two to one since 2010, according to Sierra Club and CoalSwarm – two campaign groups that have tracked the progress of 3,900 intended plants since 2010.

The findings update a 2012 report by the World Resources Institute, which estimated that 1,199 new coal-fired power plants, with a total capacity of 1,401 gigawatts, were in the pipeline for construction. New figures suggest that, by 2014, this had shrunk by 23% to a proposed 1,083 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity.

Time to take action

The United Nations’ COP21 climate talks is finally under way in Paris. While a growing number of corporations and countries have pledged to reduce their emissions, global temperatures are still expected to rise to unsustainable levels.

Even if countries fully enact their latest pledges to reduce carbon emissions, average temperatures will rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to data cited by Bloomberg from Climate Action Tracker. Scientists predict that a temperature increase above 2 degrees Celsius will radically alter the planet, melting glaciers, increasing sea levels and making weather more extreme and less predictable.

“As the largest source of global greenhouse-gas emissions, the energy sector must be at the heart of global action to tackle climate change,” Fatih Birol, the IEA executive director, said in a statement. “World leaders meeting in Paris must set a clear direction for the accelerated transformation of the global energy sector.”

The encouraging news is that the transformation is gaining steam as a groundswell of companies vows to quit carbon.


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