Developing countries are moving fast to create clean energy capacity. Time for the US — and Montana — to step up

Some politicians characterize policies to address climate change as a choice between economic growth and the environment. What’s more, say Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, even if we were to take action on climate change, anything we do will make no difference because countries like China are “drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get a hold of.”

Problem is, that just isn’t true.

Huge growth in clean energy in developing nations
According to new data published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), a majority of the investment in clean energy in the world in 2014 took place in 55 developing nations, including China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and other nations.

Chinese worker installing a wind turbine. China will spend $27 billion in renewable energy projects this year alone. Source: Efergy

Chinese worker installing a wind turbine. China will spend $27 billion in renewable energy projects this year alone. Source: Efergy

Key findings of the study:

  • For the first time ever, over half of all new annual investment into clean energy power generating projects globally went toward projects in emerging markets, rather than toward wealthier countries. China led this growth by adding 35 gigawatts of new renewable power generating capacity — more than the US, UK and France combined.
  • New investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 developing countries to hit a record annual high of $126 billion – up 39%, from 2013 levels.
  • Financial institutions in developing countries invested $79 billion in renewables in those countries, up 50% from the year before.
  • Continuing declines in clean energy costs appear to be driving growth. Costs associated with solar have declined 15% globally in the last year. Solar is particularly competitive in emerging markets which often suffer from very high power prices from fossil generation while also enjoying very sunny conditions.
  • On a percentage basis, clean energy capacity in developing countries is growing twice as quickly as in developed nations.

What’s more, The BNEF analysis says this trend is not only going to continue, but increase over the next 25 years. (OECD countries are the 34 most developed nations in the world.)

Clean energy power shiftSource: BNEF

As you can see from the chart above, use of oil, gas and coal in developing countries will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. China has announced that their emissions will peak in 2030. But during that time, the renewables capacity in developing nations will become 60% of their total energy output, up from the 33% it is today.

Time for the US — and Montana — to step up
In advance of the critical international climate talks scheduled to begin shortly in Paris, it is clear that the developing countries of the world are prepared to step to the table to make significant commitments to reducing carbon emissions. Rather than stick our heads in the sand, as candidates as Rubio and Fiorina and others would have us do, it is time for the United States to step up.

 And in Montana, where our leaders blithely talk about an “all of the above” energy policy, it’s time to wake up. The future is  going to be built around transitioning to clean energy, not extracting fossil fuels from the shale underneath the Beartooth Front.

They understand this in Pakistan, Tanzania and Mexico. Why not in Helena and Washington DC?

Related:
Comparing the 2016 presidential candidates on climate change

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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One Response to Developing countries are moving fast to create clean energy capacity. Time for the US — and Montana — to step up

  1. Fossil fuels have been subsidized for over century (by law from our Congress) and never have had to fully assume liability for all the ‘external’ costs imposed upon communities such as coal slurry ponds (waste water from ‘cleaning’ coal), coal ash (wet and dry) and also all the health related costs borne by our healthcare system for illnesses and diseases suffered by coal-miners and communities near fossil fuel facilities) and we’re not even addressing the impacts of climate disruption/chaos since the advent of the Industrial Revolution which has brought profound and tremendous benefits to civilization and the ability to share our thoughts here on Facebook and use our tablets, etc, but the ability for us to have flip-phones in the course of 10 years shows how civilization CAN move forward if we have a PLAN and we depend on a reliable grid still using coal to power us, provide the kilowatts we need to ‘plug’ our cars in for the winter, etc.

    Remember when doctors used to smoke and recommend cigarettes on TV? Did we know better than? We do know and folks now realize the consequences.

    As for raptors, the wind industry knows much more how to mitigate impacts in wildlife and a windfarm’s footprint depends on economial site selection – near existing transmission – and I remind all that the famous Oilman T. Boone Pickens – no Santa Monica liberal I might say – is still a geologist and driller to his bones, but a Wind and Natural Gas advocate that provdes firming and bountiful energy for CNG/LNG heavy fleets.
    As a retired Arm officer of 30 years service, I can say I’ve helped ‘subsidize’ the protection on multi-national oil corporations who helped make the middle east the ‘center’ of our foreign policyand misadventures because of our ‘thirst’ for petroleum and the USA having to ‘grovel’ before the Saudi gov’t especially (I recall Saudi lieutenants in my officer basic courses and other services so we could maintain our ‘alliance’ just for oil, and sell them weapons, etc.) for oil imports.
    Now with fracking we can break that ‘hold’ (and we can do better to manage waste-water and harness methane for fuel and profit) as we can use nat.gas for generation and powering our heavy vehicle fleets and tractors with CNG/LNG options and will take time as it took a ‘few’ years to go from Model T to the V8 and that was in the analog days of slide rules (I learned on them!) so
    we have powerful tools to get there faster now – if we choose.
    Technology is the driver, and in military history we’ve seen that, and the generals and admirals in 1940 still thought horse cavalry and battleships alone would prevail……..Einstein, Patton and Halsey with FDR thought otherwise.
    Thanks Sen. Kary for your input and strongly recommend you work with Sen. Mike Philips who TRIED valiantly to develop a TRANSITION Plan for coal over time and be ready to export new energy as we ‘glidedown’ CAREFULLy from our coal legacy which DID power our Nation and heat our homes (on the ranch we have propane vs. coal now) and we can be proud of that and still will need to transition and show leadership in the world, not just in ‘military might’ be energy innovation and GREEN is the NEW’Red, White and Blue’!
    (note: my FB comment and response to GF Tribune’s editorial page today featuring NW Energy’s Bob Rowe, the brilliant Prof. Tom Powers and Sen. Kary of the Kolstrip tribe resisting to the bitter end with no plan I regret but I have some hope he’ll see the light, no pun intended)

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