A pat on our backs for the precious climate change victories of 2023

First, the global discourse on climate change. A few years ago, only a handful truly cared. Today, surveys show that most people see climate change as a critical concern.

This evolution isn’t happenstance. Media platforms have elevated climate discussions and educational programmes are cultivating a more profound comprehension. In regions grappling with brutal climate effects, the learning curve has been steep. The once-sidelined issue is taking centre stage, not just in public forums but also in global politics.
Governments are hopping on the net-zero bandwagon. Back in 2015, Bhutan was the lone wolf. Today, more than over 90 countries are in on the game, covering almost 80 per cent of emissions. The goal is to put a lid on rising temperatures. Remarkably, projections of temperature increases by the end of the century have improved, from an alarming 3.6-3.9 degrees Celsius to 2.7 degrees, according to a recent study.
Now, let’s peek into the corporate world. Investors and businesses too are feeling the heat. Climate change has become a threat they can’t sweep under the carpet. Companies are baring it all, disclosing their climate impact, sparking an immense demand for climate solutions.
Recent years have also seen a significant surge in public and private spending worldwide to combat climate change, particularly in the US. An analysis reveals a hefty US$213 billion was invested into clean energy technology in the US over the 12 months to June 30, 2023. Most of this went into renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, alongside support for battery and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, and the establishment of green hydrogen infrastructure.
This investment spree presents an opportunity for emerging technologies to step up and cater to the growing markets. It’s a chance for innovative technologies to shape the landscape. Greenwashing has become a risky game as the spotlight gets brighter and the scrutiny sharper.
Welcome to the era where renewables are the cool kids on the block. They are the smarter choice, and they’ve got the receipts to prove it. With costs dropping by as much as 60-90 per cent over the last decade, solar and wind are at the forefront.

01:36

China’s largest photothermal power facility drives development of new form of energy

China’s largest photothermal power facility drives development of new form of energy

China is leading the way. Its solar capacity has soared to 228 gigawatts (GW), surpassing the combined capacity of the rest of the world, according to the Global Energy Monitor. With another 750GW of wind and solar projects in the pipeline, adding to its current capacity of 757GW, China is on track to hit its 2030 target of 1,200GW. It’s almost hard to fathom – this is happening five years ahead of schedule.

China’s momentum in renewable energy isn’t just a statistic; it signifies the deserving rise of clean energy. Cleantech products have become cost competitive and are expected to soon surpass fossil fuels in affordability across most applications.

The International Energy Agency reports a striking shift in investments: for every US$1 allocated to fossil fuels, US$1.70 is now directed towards clean energy, surpassing the 1:1 ratio just five years ago.

03:06

China’s public transport goes green as electric buses hit the streets

China’s public transport goes green as electric buses hit the streets

Lastly, let’s talk about EVs. In regions such as the European Economic Area, Canada, Chile and several US states, combustion engine cars are being phased out. Yes, there are challenges, such as a lack of charging networks, range anxieties and affordability. But advancements in battery technology, led by China’s 56 per cent stake in the EV battery market, are promising.
Take the Shenxing battery by Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) for instance. It offers 700km on one charge and an 80 per cent charge in just 10 minutes – a significant leap.

But the climate crisis isn’t kicking back and taking a break. These wins? They are sparks in the dark. They show us the way, but they’re not the blazing fire we need. The momentum needs to pick up.

This is a turning point where every action, every decision counts. We’ve made strides. But the acceleration of the climate crisis remains alarming – we need more action and we need it now.

Rizwan Basir is a sociologist who works as a climate finance specialist at the Climate Resourcing Coordination Centre (CRCC), based in Islamabad, Pakistan

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