Climate Action

7 energy and climate good-news stories to give you hope

Wind turbines.

Recent positive energy trends can allow us to be optimistic heading into the future. Image: Unsplash/Karsten Würth

Johnny Wood
Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • 2023 was a tough year for the planet, with nine consecutive months of hottest-ever temperatures.
  • However, as the energy transition evolves there are reasons for optimism.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index 2024 shows positive readiness trends for several key energy transition enablers.

Are you concerned about the climate crisis?

If so, you’re not alone. Within the last year we’ve seen a string of 11 consecutive “hottest-ever” months, and temperature “firsts” continue to hit media headlines.

While there is still time to limit global emissions to within 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels, the window of opportunity is closing fast, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

But as the transition to a low- or no-carbon future gains momentum, several bright spots are appearing on the horizon.

ETI transition readiness trend, 2014-2023
Several key enablers of the global energy transition show a positive trend over time. Image: WEF

As part of the World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report, the energy transition index (ETI) shows a positive energy transition readiness trend for key enablers, such as regulation, infrastructure and financial investment. These enablers help provide the framework for a successful transition to clean energy.

Here are 7 other reasons to feel optimistic about the future of energy and the environment.

1. 'Spectacular' global renewables growth in 2023

Global renewable energy capacity hit 50% growth in 2023, its fastest growth rate for twenty years. Renewable capacity is on course to increase by 2.5 times by the end of the decade, keeping a key COP28 climate target of tripling renewable capacity within reach.

Rapid growth in China’s solar industry was the main driver, while Europe, the US and Brazil also achieved impressive renewable energy growth.

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Crimes “comparable to ecocide” including habitat loss and illegal logging, can be hit with tough penalties and prison sentences under the EU Parliament's updated environmental crime directive. The bloc’s member states have a two-year period to adopt the directive into national law.

3. Seven countries now powered by 100% renewables

Albania, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Iceland, Nepal, Paraguay and the Democratic Republic of Congo generate more than 99.7% of their electricity needs from geothermal, hydro-electricity, solar or wind power.

4. Two-fold increase in government policies tackling deforestation and nature

The number of nature-based policy announcements from governments around the world has doubled in the past year, a study by the Inevitable Policy Response forecasting group says.

However, more than 90% of nature policies introduced in 2023 were in-line with the 2℃ warming target, rather than the 1.5℃ climate goal.

A view of the turbines at Orsted's offshore wind farm near Nysted, Denmark, September 4, 2023. REUTERS/Tom Little
Renewables like wind power could overtake coal by 2025. Image: REUTERS/Tom Little

5. World’s largest offshore wind farm at full capacity

With 165 turbines harvesting wind power in an area of the North Sea equal in size to 64,000 soccer pitches, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Hornsea 2, is operating at full capacity.

Located almost 90 kilometres from the UK’s Yorkshire coastline, the wind farm’s total generating capacity of 1,300MW can supply enough clean energy to power 1.4 million homes in the UK each year.

6. European Court finds climate change inaction violates human rights

A landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) finds in favour of an association of 2,500 Swiss women that the Swiss government’s inaction to address climate change violated their fundamental human rights.

The ruling could open the door to more challenges of governmental inaction over climate change. However, a similar case brought against every EU member state by six Portuguese young people was rejected by the ECHR on jurisdiction grounds.

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7. Renewables’ growth could overtake coal by 2025

Clean renewable energy looks set to become the world’s biggest source of power by 2025, overcoming coal, according to the IEA.

Renewables are set to account for more than 90% of global electricity expansion over the coming years. Global renewable power capacity is predicted to increase by 2,400 gigawatts between 2022 and 2027.

While there is still some way to go on the journey to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, it seems we are heading in the right direction. Extending the metaphor, the question is… are we travelling fast enough?

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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