Environmental news can challenge our emotional reserves these days, especially at this critical junction in which policy-based assaults on the planet are increasing and decreases are more essential and urgent than ever before. Protecting the earth from a two-degree temperature spike is absolutely necessary at this point in our history, and yet efforts to deregulate industry and collect short term gains at long term expense actually seem to be ramping up.
But not all the news is disheartening. In fact, the UN just released a study that provides no small reason for hope and optimism; according to the data collected by researchers, global investments in clean energy rose at a surprising rate in 2017, far surpassing investments in all fossil fuel producers (coal, oil and natural gas) combined.
Studies like this one suggest that the replacement of fossil fuels with clean energy production (solar and wind) could actually take place, and the process is on pace and progressing at a steady rate. Can we get there in time to prevent the critical two percent increase? Only time will tell, but some of the world’s largest consumers of electricity, including China, are leading the way.
Unfortunately, the United States and Europe are not taking an impressive leadership role and in fact have recently seen slight to steep decreases in clean energy investment, largely due to a 2017 decline in government support. But government sponsored subsidies for clean energy production may not be needed very much in the near future, as clean energy technology improves and the overall costs of wind and solar production continue to drop.
Even in the face of government pushback against climate research and protections for fossil fuel producers, we may reach a point at which the market carries enough weight to tip the scales in favor of sustainability. This may be wishful thinking, and we still have a very long way to go, but studies like this one give us a reason for hope and the motivation to apply ongoing pressure in the right direction.
Here’s the report (produced by the Frankfurt School FS-UNEP Collaborating Center for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance) if you’d like to review the results on your own. Join us as we monitor this news and follow developments in wind and solar energy production.