Hopeful News About Our Climate

Like many fellow climate activists, I often despair for the fate of all I hold dear.

But I recently read Al Gore’s article, “The Turning Point:  New Hope for the Climate,” in The Rolling Stone.   Gore has persuaded me that there is ample reason to hope.  While it is true that it is too late to stop global warming, and that our efforts must be directed to preventing the worst scenarios from becoming reality, he shows that many positive changes are taking place.  And many of these changes are occurring more rapidly than scientists had anticipated.  

I summarize here some of the very hopeful points in Gore’s article.  If you’d like to read the whole piece, just click on the link at the end.

  • Our ability to convert sunshine to usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted.  The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries.  By 2020–as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline–more than 80% of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.
  • Germany, far from the world’s sunniest or windiest country, now generates 37% of its daily electricity from solar and wind.  Analysts predict that number will rise to 50% by 2020!  (To me, this proves what is possible if the political will is there.) 
  • In the U.S., where up to 49% of new generating capacity came from renewables in 2012, 166 coal-fired electricity-generating plants have either closed or have announced they are closing in the past four and a half years.  An additional 183 proposed new coal plants have been canceled since 2005.
  • India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi (who has authored an e-book on global warming), has launched a stunning program that is bringing solar-generated electricity to 400 million people who have never had electricity before!
  • Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute–making that country the most rapidly growing market for PV in the world.  
  • At the start of the 21st century, some scoffed at projections that the world would be installing one gigawatt of new solar electricity per year by 2010.  That goal was exceeded 17 times over!  Last year it was exceeded 39 times over!  And this year the world is on pace to exceed that benchmark as much as 55 times over.
  • The cost of wind energy is plummeting.  Since 2009 it has dropped 43% in the U.S.  Wind energy is now cheaper than coal for new generating capacity.  Worldwide, in 2010, wind deployments were seven times greater than projections made in 2000.  Now, wind deployments are more than 10 times that projection.
  • In the U.S., nearly one-third of all new electricity-generating capacity in the last five years has come from wind, and installed wind capacity in the U.S. has increased more than fivefold since 2006.
  • While the cost of carbon-based energy continues to increase, the cost of solar electricity has dropped by an average of 20% per year since 2010. 
  • President Obama, mostly a disappointment when it comes to action on climate, is finally stepping up the pace.  He has empowered the EPA to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and existing sources.  He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet.
  • Because Obama is making reductions in CO2 a much higher priority than he did in his first term, he will bring to the 2015 global climate talks in Paris a credibility and moral authority that he lacked during the disastrous world meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.
  • China’s new president Xi Jinping has launched a pilot cap-and-trade system in two cities and five provinces as a model for a nationwide cap-and-trade program in the next few years.  He has banned all new coal burning in several cities and required the reporting of CO2 emissions by all major industrial sources.  
  • The U.S. and China have reached an agreement to limit another potent source of global warming pollution–the chemical compounds known as hydro-fluorocarbons, or HFCs.
  • Warren Buffett has announced that he is ready to double Berkshire Hathaway’s existing $15 billion investment in wind and solar energy.
  • A growing number of large investors–pension funds, university endowments, and others–have announced decisions to divest from carbon-intensive assets.
  • The stock exchanges of Sao Paulo and Johannesburg have decided to require the full integration of sustainability from all listed companies.  Standard & Poor’s has announced that some nations vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis may soon have their bonds downgraded because of the enhanced risk to holders of those assets.

All of the above is VERY good news–cause for real hope and optimism.–April Moore

The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate

3 Responses to “Hopeful News About Our Climate”

  1. Kia Ware Says:

    Wow, so nice to read some positive news about climate change and people’s efforts to improve the future.

  2. Todd Says:

    April, An excellent summary of the article! Todd

  3. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    Thank you, April, for sharing this news. It has lifted my despair and allowed me to see cause for hope.

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