Catastrophic floods in Pakistan, a new Asian temperature record of 128 degrees, and record Russian temperatures that have caused stalwart climate skeptics to change their tune are just the latest visceral impacts of climate change.
Add to this the recent death of the US climate bill and it’s frightening to hear that according to Michael Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations, we really have no idea where the clean energy revolution is headed.
However, in spite of our apparent inability to respond to climate change at a policy level and the conventional wisdom that predicts fossil fuels will dominate future energy supplies - according to the IEA 77%- a clean energy transition is taking place.
Take the 1500% increase in solar panel installations in the “sunny” United Kingdom, which is outpacing Spain’s “abysmal” increase of 730%. Or look at the recently released US wind power figures showing nearly 10 GW of installed power accounting for almost 40% of new US electricity capacity.
Even more impressive are the numbers from the recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on global low carbon investment. The report shows that in 2009 alone $90 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was directed towards renewables, recycling, and low-carbon technology manufacturing. All of this despite Bloomberg’s recently released study showing that global energy subsidies provide 12 times more support to fossil fuels than renewables.
What is particularly striking however, is that it more and more this transition is being lead by rapidly industrializing nations that according to conventional wisdom can simply not afford these technologies and must rely on harmful, outdated fossil fuels to achieve development.
These nations are demonstrating that not only is the clean energy revolution feasible, it represents a strategic positioning for tomorrow’s clean technology economy.
The real question is whether this transition will become the revolution it needs to be - whether it will occur quickly enough, and at the needed scale to avert the worst of the impacts many of which we are already experiencing. The answer relies on defying convention and embracing and pushing leaders to follow the path unfolding before us.
Forcing them to accept that is up to us.
This post appears courtesy of the Sierra Club India Environment blog.
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Image: Courtesy of BBC.