May 28, 2024

Wind turbines and power lines

Wind turbines
Photo: Maja Hitij (Getty Images)

The Earth is careening toward a dangerous level of global warming. At this rate, the planet will eventually lose its ability to provide us with the conditions necessary to sustain our continued survival. Many of the industries that contribute to that warming through greenhouse gas emissions, like oil companies and the U.S. military-industrial complex, are either moving too slowly to keep humanity alive or actively resisting efforts to rein in their harms. Grim stuff.

But there is a bright spot: The climate think tank Ember notes in a report released Wednesday that a record 30% of energy production worldwide is now coming from renewable sources.

There’s good news and bad news here: “Indeed, the expansion of clean capacity would have been enough to deliver a fall in global power sector emissions in 2023,” the report says. “However, drought caused a five-year low in hydropower, which created a shortfall that was met in large part by coal. Nonetheless, the latest forecasts give confidence that 2024 will begin a new era of falling fossil generation, marking 2023 as the likely peak of power sector emissions.”

Read more: Big Oil has been lying about its role in climate change for decades, a congressional report says

Much of the growth in renewable energy came from solar and wind power expansion spearheaded by China — those categories were up 23% and 10% worldwide, respectively. Though planet-warming fossil fuel use also increased last year (by 0.8%), Ember thinks that number will shrink in the near future.

“Already the rollout of clean generation, led by solar and wind, has helped to slow the growth in fossil fuels by almost two-thirds in the last ten years,” the report says. “As a result, half the world’s economies are already at least five years past a peak in electricity generation from fossil fuels.”

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