As the Paris climate summit moves along, signs of the world’s unstoppable shift from fossil fuels to renewables are coming thicker and faster than ever. While fossil fuels fizzle out, renewables are skyrocketing.
Following India’s newly launched solar alliance, African nations committed to reaching 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030, doubling their current energy capacity which will be 100 per cent clean.
Fossil Fuels Fizzle Out
As the political momentum for full decarbonisation increases, uniting rich and poor nations, new figures show coal and fossil fuels are on their way out even faster than predicted, with coal consumption set to shrink by up to 4 per cent this year. As demand declines and risk grows, investors are retreating, with banks Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and ING among the latest institutions to announce cuts to coal financing, bringing the total sum divested from fossil fuels to over $3.4 trillion – 50 times higher than just a year ago.
Big news –>Divestment Commitments Pass the $3.4 trillion Mark at #COP21 https://t.co/Co7UsoV2Mb #DivestForParis pic.twitter.com/1BIIHh6pK7 — 350 dot org (@350) December 2, 2015
Fossils are falling, but not fast enough. Coal’s hold on world electricity markets is weakening rapidly, with its share set to drop 2-4 per cent this year. Coal projects are collapsing, from Poland to Australia, and companies on – or over – the brink of bankruptcy. But even if no new coal plants come online, those running today are enough to jeopardise the future of the planet and its peoples. Pulling the plug on all coal plants is the only surefire way to protect citizens, communities and habitats from their multiple dangers, from fatal diseases and collapsing mines to sky-high carbon emissions. By replacing fossil fuels with renewables, the world will benefit from an energy transformation that will protect millions of lives, create new jobs, save billions of dollars, and tackle energy poverty.
Renewables are Skyrocketing
Renewables are rising, and more popular than ever. More and more countries – from the world’s biggest economies to the most vulnerable nations – are joining the growing call for a zero carbon energy future. Following Africa’s lead, many others are making commitments to massively expand renewables. With over 180 countries having submitted climate pledges to the UN – which are already driving the design of new national policies to cut emissions – and leaders re-affirming their commitment to climate action as the Paris climate summit opened, it is clear that the world is on the cusp of a massive expansion of renewables capacity.
Investors are shifting the trillions they have in risky fossil fuel assets towards safe, clean renewable energy. With dirty energy assets labelled a liability, renewables are reaping the rewards: in 2014 alone, sums divested from fossil fuels increased 50-fold and renewables had a record investment year.
As the global flow of money changes course, the world will be watching to see whether governments follow suit by putting people ahead of polluters, providing the promised $100 billion per year to support those least responsible for but most vulnerable to climate change, and scaling it up after 2020.
Momentum for climate action in the real world continues to lead the politics by a significant margin, with strong strides from top-tier financiers demonstrating to politicians that the smart money is absolutely on a renewable future. The Bank of England’s Mark Carney and the former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a new global task force aimed at tracking climate-related risk for financial markets. Investors, insurers, banks and consumers will be able to access information under the plans, led by the Financial Stability Board – the G20 body that monitors the financial system.
Other notable announcements came from ABP, a Dutch pension fund that will shift 25 per cent of its €100 billion portfolio towards renewables by 2020, and the New York Common Retirement Fund (CRF) – the third biggest pension fund in the United States – which will move $2 billion towards a low carbon find. As the private sector steps up to act for the people and the planet while watching their portfolios grow, this latest effort is yet another signal that the global economy is veering towards a low and no carbon future, squeezing out those who refuse to adapt and leaving them to deal with the consequences.
New research showing that coal plants already running will push emissions 150 per cent above the internationally agreed 2°C threshold, highlights the urgent need to boost this trend. All proposed coal plants, if built, will put emissions as high as 400 per cent over the limit. Pressure is thus zooming in on countries like Turkey, Japan and Australia which still cling to coal despite its danger to health, communities and the climate, and on banks that have so far failed to see the writing on the wall by continuing to finance dirty energy projects.
Unless these few remaining fossil fuel junkies wean themselves off coal, oil and gas rapidly, they risk ending up left behind in a dirty energy past as the rest of the world embraces the just transition to the renewable energy era which is already under way and picking up speed.
#Cleantech revolution could disrupt energy sector in the next 15 years #COP21https://t.co/J7LQiLsVKvpic.twitter.com/yrrdtDeN8W — Bank of America News (@BofA_News) December 4, 2015
Dream on Boomer, they may be rising in popularity but they can never replace
fossil resources in all of the services & raw material they provide.
I would love “green renewables” if they were, but their not “green” or
“renewable” without fossil resources, a little inconvenience people like to ignore or overlook.
There is another huge problem with these devices, they are VERY
EXPENSIVE to buy & maintain, only wealthy people could afford such
systems or governments who steal peoples money for such short term
reductions in carbon burning.
Look at China! Look at it’s terrible pollution, that’s where your “green
renewables” are being made, in SLAVE LABOR, DIRTY, POLLUTING CHINA!
That’s also where YOUR carbon is being burned to make all those solar
cells & wind turbines & all their accompanying electronics!
Face the ugly truth Boomer, “renewables” “green” or otherwise, are not
going to keep BAU going or keep any fraction of it or us alive.
They cannot grow out FOOD, they cannot provide ANY RAW MATERIAL to
replace that lost when FF are no longer available, when OIL is no longer
available, that the end of all our “renewables” as they like us would not exist without OIL.
The “good” news is that OIL is down again so people can drive more or manufacture more “green renewables” from OIL, COAL & NATURAL GAS!
You can never say “never” about the end of fossil fuels. Of course the fossil fuel industry would love to extract all the oil and coal out of the ground as quickly as possible before we move on to alternative sources of energy. But if we do that, most species on the planet will disappear.
We only have a few decades to get to a zero-carbon economy. What is happening right now is a revolution in renewables. Of course we still need the oil to produce the renewable energy equipment — panels, wind turbines, storage cells, etc. — but as we gradually switch to renewable energy, it is that source of energy itself which will produce more solar panels, more electric vehicles, etc. The more renewable energy we have, the greater and better will become the renewable energy infrastructure. It’s self-perpetuating.
Humanity has transitioned from the stone age/use of fire era to the fossil fuel age and we are now on the cusp of the clean energy age.
Thank you for your comments and for following BoomerWarrior.
Boomer, the only one kind of zero carbon economy would exist is if 1. we got rid of 6 or more billion humans & 2. go back to a hunter gatherer society but we can’t go back because we have destroyed too much of the wild we would need to return to.
Your “green renewables” are neither “green” or “renewable”, why can’t you get that Boomer? They are as TIGHTLY TIED TO OIL as your car! They are NOT “renewable”! They are NOT “green”, huge amounts of POLLUTION are being generated in CHINA TO MAKE THOSE THINGS!
The “zero carbon economy” will only exist after we have collapsed & it will be a HELL, not the nice, “green renewable energy” lifestyle you envision.
The surviving humans, if any, will have stripped every eatable thing they can find, there will be no domesticated animals or plants surviving our collapse, there will be only primitive technology, wood & stone tools, NO solar panels or wind turbines will exist by then, they cannot exist without OIL.
We will “get off” oil by force, not because there are any viable alternatives, because there aren’t any.
The decline of OIL will be the death of most of humanity, face up to REALITY Boomer, “green alternatives” are a HOAX, A LIE, HOPIUM, PROPAGANDA, a DELUSION, FICTION, FALSE, & A MYTH!
They are just another dead end like oil, coal & natural gas.
I truly wish that wasn’t the case Boomer but that is where the EVIDENCE leads me & I follow EVIDENCE NOT hopium, myths, propaganda, lies, sales pitches or delusions.
At least I hope I’m not, I keep looking for new evidence for a real “green renewable” energy system but so far, I have not found any.
Well Sheila, we will get off oil some day, the sooner the better – either forced to because we’ve exhausted every drop of it or because we have chosen to move on to a better energy source. Just remember that humanity did not leave the stone age because it had used up all the stone.
You paint a very bleak picture of apocalypse which I don’t agree with. That said, there are times when I go down that slippery slope as well.
Thank you for your ongoing support and comments.
Boomer, if there is a “better” source of energy we can tap into without having to use OIL, I’m all for it!
As far as I am aware of, the most energy dense source of energy we have is OIL, there is nothing more energy dense, portable & as valuable a raw material than OIL & that’s so far, a fact!
Sure the sun has far more energy than we could ever use but tapping into that energy directly has been proven to be unsustainable because our high tech devices are made from & with OIL.
Low tech solar energy collectors like wood, plants, the atmosphere & water cannot meet our current energy needs.
I’m sorry I have to be so negative but that is where the available evidence has led me, it’s not where I want to go.
I would love to believe that we can continue on with solar, wind & water powered electric generating devices but that’s only part of our troubles, there is the problem of FOOD, SOIL, AIR & WATER & no “renewable” can even begin to address those problems.
Please follow the resources & the energy needed to produce your precious solar cells & wind turbines because if you do, you will also see why these devices cannot & will not keep BAU functioning.
They also cannot keep 7.4 billion humans alive as no “renewable” can grow our food, fertilize the soil, provide the energy needed for heavy manufacturing or mine the raw materials we need.
Keep fighting to reduce Carbon even though I feel it’s too late, maybe their wrong, perhaps it won’t get THAT bad, we won’t really know until we are there but we are moving closer to “there” every day & I see no way we can escape population collapse but if that was the worse we have to face, there would be survivors, if Dr. Guy McPherson & other climate experts are right, we are doomed.
In spite of the fact I feel we are doomed, I’m still recycling, still driving less, still keeping the heat down, still using the same shopping bags I’ve been using for decades etc.
It’s not over until it’s OVER!
Solar technology will develop, become cheap and be used in most homes. Vehicles will also become largely powered by powerful batteries recharged as necessary wherever solar rechargers are installed. Airplanes will run with only water as a byproduct.
Plastics, oil products etc, will be redeveloped from bioegeneered bacterial products and recycled plant materials.
Forests will be replaced as carbon sequestering systems that provide oxygen rich and pollution free air.
Internet computing will be run using light transferance, power and transmission provided by solar panels. Our LED lights will give us our emails too.
Food proteins will be manufactured instead of from farmed livestock.
While stuff like this sounds like it is fantastical, futuristic and unobtainable in ‘the real world,’ each of these ideas have received research investment because they are plausible and possible on a manufactured scale.
We cannot look backward and say ‘can’t ever do without fossil fuels.’ Instead we must turn to ways to use our resources for clever renewable, revitalising and biosphere sustaining projects. We are quite capable of doing it. Whether we are honourable enough to do it, is an entirely different matter.
I like your futuristic views. What was deemed impossible a decade ago is now becoming reality. Human ingenuity — necessity is the mother of invention — is alive and well. What is happening right now in solar technology is nothing short of amazing.
I did a piece some months ago about “On the Cusp of the Third Industrial Revolution” which featured Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Third Industrial Revolution. It is truly a must-read.