2014 : reasons to hope


HopeAs we are kicking off the new year I believe it would be interesting to offer my readers reasons to hope. Indeed, if climate change and other environmental issues are getting each month more pressing, we are witnessing at least five trends.

From renewable energy sources to the carbon tax, from coal funding to greenhouse gases emissions, I believe we are on the right track. Whether we are at the right speed however remains to be seen.

It is up to us all to make sure the right trends keep on increasing and that the negative ones just go in the opposite direction. Let’s make it happen in 2014.

1. Booming solar and wind power globally

2013 has been another record year for both solar and wind power installations globally. Solar PV installed capacity in 2013 reached 35 GW, up from less than ten gigawatts annually in 2008 and 2009. And this is only the beginning as we will see later this week.

Regarding wind, the same exponential curve can be seen. From a total capacity of 31 GW in 2002, global capacity reached 282 MW, almost ten times more, in 2012 :

Global-Cumulative-Installed-Wind-Capacity-1996-20122(GWEC figure)

2. Institutions won’t fund coal fired plants anymore

As I reported this summer, three major financing institutions will stop funding coal-fired plants around the world. First the World Bank and the United States announced such a move.

Then the European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the European Union, announced it would do the same a later that month.

Carbon tax3. Carbon tax is gaining traction and momentum

While the current Australian government is willing to scrap its carbon tax, countries such as China and South Africa are willing to curb their greenhouse gases emissions by using this fantastic tool. Both projects will start next year.

Meanwhile, large institutions such as the IEA or the IMF have been voicing more and more their support to this tool which could also slash national debts.

4. Biking and bike sharing are booming globally

Essential tools to make our cities more livable and breathable, both biking and bike sharing are booming globally as I noted during Spring 2013.

As Treehugger noted, bike-sharing in the U.S. expected to reach 37,000 bikes in 2014 (4x more than in 2012!) and global figures are equally satisfying. If in 2006 the world had less than 100,000 bike shares, in 2013 this figure reached 700,000 !

5. Greenhouse gases emissions are growing but less slowly than previously.

This was the major news in November, global GHG emissions are rising but much more slowly than what they have been doing for the previous years.

Global carbon dioxide emissions indeed  increased in 2012 by only 1.4 percent, which is less than half the average over the last decade. Could this mean that global emissions reach their plateau in 2015, just in time to save the climate ?

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