Here's an encouraging headline from The Guardian—apparently US power sector carbon emissions are down 12% compared to 2005. That's a pretty impressive decline, especially given the fact the economy has grown 15% in that very same period.
It's a little premature to call the battle won, though.
The figures, which come from the US Energy Information Administration's monthly review for April, show that much of the decline comes from a collapse in coal consumption and a dramatic rise in natural gas as a cheaper alternative.Given the problems with toxic spills, methane leaks and earthquakes, there's plenty of reason for all of us to keep fighting for a true clean energy future. But looking more closely at the numbers, renewables do seem to be picking up steam too. And that's before the Paris Climate Agreement or the President's (currently stalled) Clean Power Plan come into force:
Whatever your position on natural gas as a bridge fuel, these figures are a useful reminder of a very pertinent fact: While our energy system may appear dauntingly reliant on incumbent technologies, change does eventually come. And with that change comes an opportunity to rethink things for the better.
Now let's just see what happens when policy makers really get serious about tackling our carbon emissions.