Humanity is making significant strides in building a climate-resilient global society powered by renewable energy. In 2019, nearly three-quarters of all new energy sources were renewable, the most ever since data collection began in 2001, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). With this significant boost, renewables now account for nearly 35% of all energy generation worldwide.
Every region around the world contributed to this breakthrough growth. Asia led the way, accounting for more than half of new renewable capacity this year. However, renewables accounted for at least 70% of new capacity in every region, with the exception of Africa and the Middle East. Solar and wind power accounted for 90% of new renewable sources in 2019, though hydropower remains a significant share of global renewable capacity.
This progress is urgently needed. Our reliance on fossil fuels, and the resulting climate crisis, pose dire threats to our ecosystems, economies, communities, and human rights all around the world. IRENA projects that renewables must be at least 57% of global energy generation by 2030 if we are to prevent climate catastrophe.
Stories like these remind me that while we often hear of many terrible isolated events — oil spills, pipelines being built, the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement, etc. — slowly but surely we keep making progress. The individual acts of progress may not always be sexy or particularly noteworthy, but when you add them up, we realize just how far we’ve come We certainly have a long way to go in building our climate-resilient future, but our global society has already made significant strides.
What more can we do to instill an even greater sense of urgency and accelerate progress around the world?