Reasons for optimism on the climate crisis

Posted by Andi

Nearly every news article currently tends to be bad news about climate change. Whilst there certainly is a huge climate issue, it is also a good idea to look at some positive news.

Falling emissions in China

China – the world’s biggest annual carbon polluter – recorded an 8% fall in the June quarter and a 3% cut year-on-year.

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This is the largest cut in Chinese carbon pollution in at least a decade and the fourth straight quarter in which pollution has fallen. It was driven by numerous factors such as a real-estate slump, Covid-related restrictions, weak growth in electricity use and continued renewable energy expansion.

The renewable energy industry is growing

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) found more people are now employed in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. Clean energy investment has grown by 12% a year since 2020, partly due to the rise of public and private support for sustainable finance. Renewable energy, new grids and energy storage account for more than 80% of total power sector investment.

The IEA estimates spending on solar, batteries and EVs is now growing at a rate consistent with reaching global net zero emissions by 2050. In Europe, there has been a significant swing towards renewable energy even while countries offer short-term support for fossil fuels due to the ongoing energy crisis. The British think tank Ember found a record northern summer of solar generation meant the continent was able to avoid spending €29bn on gas. Across the EU’s 27 countries, renewable energy provided 35% of electricity, compared to 16% from coal. 

Greater funding for clean energy transition

A major issue surrounding climate change is that some of the rising, major emitters lack the funding to make the necessary changes to move away from fossil fuels. A template deal was announced at the Cop26 climate summit when South Africa signed a partnership with Germany, the UK, the US, and the EU that promises $8.5bn over the next three-to-five years as the country restructures its coal-dependent energy system.

In June, the G7 confirmed a larger goal – to access up to $600bn in public and private finance over five years for clean energy infrastructure in countries including Indonesia, India, Senegal and Vietnam. Along with other steps, such as G20 countries promising to stop financing new coal power overseas.

America has passed major climate change legislation

This is arguably the greatest reason for optimism this year. After years of trying and failing, the US which is the biggest historic emitter has passed major climate change legislation through its Congress. Analysis has found the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could propel the country to a 43% cut in emissions by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. 

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