Whether you’re for or against continuing to drill for oil and mine coal, the fact that fossil fuels will run out is indisputable. We know that the current U.S. administration has taken a step backward in addressing these concerns, throwing its weight instead firmly behind fossil fuel proponents, but what about the rest of the world?
Thankfully, most world leaders are still keen to reduce carbon emissions and finding new ways to feed our ever-increasing need for energy. Here are a few examples:
Last October, The Guardian reported that half of the UK’s power now comes from low-carbon sources. Those sources include wind power, (which accounted for about 1/3 of the UK’s electricity between April and June of 2017), solar, nuclear and biomass.
The government recently announced new taxes on diesel-powered vehicles scheduled to take effect on 1 April 2018.
In September of 2017, Reuters published an article that outlines France’s intention to invest 20 billion euros in an energy transition plan, aimed at improving energy efficiency, promoting renewable energy, and moving to cleaner vehicles between 2018 and 2022. Nearly half of the 20 billion euros are slated for a thermal insulation program that will focus on low-income housing and government buildings. (French government officials claim buildings are responsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.) 7 billion of the remaining 11 billion will go towards the growth of French renewable energies by 70 percent over the next five years, and the remaining money will be invested in a switch to less polluting vehicles. (Vehicle emissions are currently responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions.)
Although Germany has invested heavily in renewables since 2000, Angela Merkel’s ambitious Energiewende (energy revolution) has hit some snags, especially where emission reduction goals are concerned. Still, in the country’s electric generating capacity, renewables are now running almost even with traditional fuel sources
Even China – one of the biggest offenders in terms of energy and greenhouse gases – is making huge strides on renewable energy. In just the past few years, Beijing has begun investing hundreds of billions of dollars and creating millions of jobs in clean power, easily outpacing the rest of the world. Over 2.5 million people work in the solar power sector in China, compared with only 260,000 people in the U.S., according to the most recent annual report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.)
Recognising that renewables represent the future, and because they have such high-energy needs, China has built huge solar and wind farms, helping fuel the growth of major industries that sell their products around the world.
Yes, even Russia, a country with large oil and gas reserves, expressed interest in expanding its renewable energy programs, which currently make up only about 3.6 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption. According to sources citing the IRENA Report, that percentage could rise to more than 11 percent by 2030.
The United States
Although the U.S., under President Obama had begun to make some strides in terms of renewables, the current administration has taken the exact opposite tact. Renewable sources of energy currently comprised a little less than 20 percent of the country’s total energy resources during the first quarter of 2017, but that’s not expected to increase much in the new few years.
The Nordic countries lead the world in generating energy through renewable sources like wind, geothermal and hydro-power. On one day in 2015, Denmark produced 140 percent of its electricity needs through wind power alone, exporting its excess to neighbours like Germany, Sweden and Norway. Sweden, meanwhile, has plans to produce 100 percent of its electricity using wind power by the year 2040.
Overall, the future of renewable energy looks bright, with most governments recognising both the urgency and the potential for creating new industries and new jobs. Climate change is happening at a faster pace than had previously been predicted, so every bit of progress on the global stage is encouraging and welcome news!