We are at a tipping point which few are aware of – and it’s a positive one. After 100+ years destroying the planet, 2017 is the year we begin the irreversible return to a sustainable Earth.
Why? The rise in innovation, the drop in technology cost and the growing collective action to switch to renewable energy and reverse climate change are all converging to five major 2017 milestones:
1) Solar will permanently replace oil as the most investible energy industry:
Headlines in the last three months have included Elon Musk’s Tesla earning more profit in the last quarter than the entire US oil industry earned last year (technically correct as Tesla made $22 million while the US oil industry lost $67 billion last year) and the UK generated more electricity from solar than coal over the last six months (6.9GWh vs 6.4GWh).
In contrast, the oil and gas industry is seeing record losses, with a collective debt mountain that has now passed $3 trillion. The industry is now referred to by the media as the “doomsday market.”
2) Solar will be cheaper than Grid Power globally:
The average cost of solar has dropped 75% over the last 5 years, and is already at Grid Parity (which means it’s the same price or less than power from the electric grid) in half the world’s countries. A study by Deutsche Bank predicts solar energy will be at grid parity in up to 80% of the world by the end of 2017.
Last month, Elon Musk announced his new solar roof tiles would be cheaper than normal roofs, saying “The basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and, by the way, generates electricity? Why would you get anything else?”
3) The growth in the global solar market continues to hit records year-after-year:
According to the Global Solar Power Market Report, the world had 76GW of new solar installations this year – a 48% increase from 2015. In the US, the solar industry will add 10 GW of new power output in the second half of this year, which is 34 percent more than was installed in all of 2015 (which itself was a record year).
Last year, a research team from UNEP and Bloomberg reported that renewable energy made up 53.6% of all new gigawatt capacity installed globally (up from 49% in 2014 and 40% in 2013), with green energy investments at $286 billion. The trend has continued in 2016.
4) The most tangible actions are being led by the world’s largest cities
The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is leading climate action, with 83 of the world’s biggest megacities including New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow, New Delhi, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and many of the World’s capitals. All have committed to big goals from becoming carbon neutral to generating 100% of power from renewable energy – supporting everything from electric cars to vertical farms.
It was the opt-in nature of the alliance (where if you weren’t going to make a commitment, you couldn’t join) that led the United Nations to shift from the consensus-basis of agreement in previous climate conferences (where everyone had to agree) to the opt-in basis of the Paris Agreement last year (where each country had to make their own commitment).
But the cities are not waiting for the countries. As Portland Mayor, Charlie Hales, said: “Cities are where the action is on climate, and there will be no turning back,” he said. “If we get it right, the world will get it right. And we can get it right without the support of the national government.”
5) The combined will of 197 nations is at its highest
This month 197 countries issued the “Marrakesh Action Proclamation” – reaffirming the Paris Agreement. Ironically, it was Donald Trump’s threat to “cancel” the Paris Agreement that led the countries issuing the document, which says “This year, we have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora. This momentum is irreversible.”
“It is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels. Our task now is to rapidly build on that momentum, together, moving forward purposefully to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster adaptation efforts.”
At the Marrakesh Climate Conference this month, a 2020 Roadmap was agreed to implement the Paris Agreement and take the steps to reverse the human impact on climate change.
2017 will be a year we remember – when these different forces combined to make the return journey to earth – the beginning of the path back to where it was before our age of destruction.
“When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing sides.” ~ Wayne Dyer