“We can remain one of the world’s leading importers of foreign oil, or…become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy. We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc or we can create jobs preventing its worst effects.”
– President Obama, March 19, 2009
“It is time to stand up and show others how Canada can lead globally on all fronts, including energy supply, innovation and efficiency, as well as clean energy and addressing climate change.”
– Alberta Premier Alison Redford
We agree! Since 2004 the annual investment in renewable energy capacity has increased by more than 700%. The world is undergoing an energy transformation. It is a necessary shift away from the fossil fuels we depend upon today for mobility, heat, and other services, and towards clean, safe, renewable, and locally available sources that will meet the majority of our energy needs indefinitely. This “new energy transition” won’t happen overnight, but it is also closer than many of us believe. In the coming few decades it will unleash profound changes in how citizens live, work, and move.
The solution to the tar sands is not incremental changes to improve how we extract oil. It is also not a solution to just buy oil from other regions. We need to reduce our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels by scaling up efficiency and conservation, development of clean renewable energy, and electrification of cars and trucks. The good news is the shift is already happening. We are in fact living the moment when industrial society as we know it is being re-envisioned and re-built. The time has come to focus not on getting more oil out of the tar sands faster but to reduce our dependence on oil and build a new clean energy economy.
Clean Energy By the Numbers:
- In 2010, worldwide private capital investments in renewable energy ($187 billion) surpassed electricity investments using natural gas, oil, and coal ($157 billion).4
- Last year, the global market for clean technologies reached $1 trillion.5
- All told, more than 3.5 million people are now employed in the global renewables sector. China already counts over half a million renewable energy jobs, while in Germany the sector employs more than 370,000.6 The U.S. solar industry now employs more than 100,000 people7
- Though China’s energy demand is growing, it is steadily working to reduce its petroleum dependence. According to one recent Chinese government estimate, the nation will spend $313 billion in the coming five years to grow a low-carbon economy.8
- Demand for gasoline remains flat and data suggests younger Americans appear to be losing interest in driving. From 2001 and 2009, the average annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by young Americans dropped 23 percent.9 The country is even questioning its interest in further reliance on heavy crude oils.10
- In the third quarter of 2011, U.S. companies secured 599 patents for technologies in solar, wind, hybrid/electric vehicles, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal/wave, geothermal, biomass/biofuels and other clean
- In spite of the debt crisis troubling parts of the European economy, Europe continues to invest in clean energy. The region met its 2010 renewable energy targets, is on track to exceed its 2020 targets by 20 percent.12 Almost 70 percent of new electricity generation installed in Europe last year was renewable.
- Australia, South Korea, Mexico, California, and a variety of other jurisdictions and regions have either implemented or are poised to introduce economy-wide carbon pricing regimens or comprehensive climate laws.
- According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, annual global investment in renewable energy projects is expected to reach USD$395 billion by 2020, and USD$460 billion by 2030.13