The cleverest countries on climate change – and what we can learn from them

  • 2016-11-08
  • Apolitical

Virtually every clean energy record in the world has been broken in the past year. The most investment in clean energy ($329billion in 2015), the most new renewable capacity (a third more than in 2014), the cheapest ever solar power (in Chile, where it’s half the cost of coal), the longest a country has been run entirely on renewable electricity – 113 days over this summer in Costa Rica.

The pace of the shift to a clean economy is astonishing. This year, half a million solar panels have been installed every day, while China has erected two wind turbines an hour. Wind farms off Denmark, solar farms in Morocco, wave farms off Scotland – everywhere you look, an unparalleled global effort is taking place, one that dwarfs the achievements of the space race.

Nevertheless, the scale of the problem is immense. Even as Barack Obama was announcing the ratification of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to hold global temperatures to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, he had to concede, ‘Even if we meet every target embodied in the agreement, we’ll only get to part of where we need to go.’ This is also the first year in which global CO2 levels crossed the symbolic 400ppm threshold.