We’d better pick up the pace in the 2020s.
By most measures that matter, clean energy had a stellar decade.
The cost of large wind and solar farms dropped by 70% and nearly 90%, respectively. Meanwhile, renewable-power plants around the world are producing four times more electricity than they did 10 years ago.
Similarly, electric vehicles were barely a blip at the outset of the 2010s. But automakers were on track to sell 1.8 million EVs this year, as range increased, prices fell, and companies introduced a variety of models.
But the swift growth in these small sectors still hasn’t added up to major changes in the massive global energy system, or reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. So far, cleaner technologies have mostly met rising energy demands, not cut deeply into existing fossil-fuel infrastructure, as the charts that follow make clear.
That’s a problem. Cutting emissions rapidly enough to combat the increasing threats of climate change will require complete overhauls of our power plants, factories, and vehicle fleets, all within a few decades.