Clean Energy’s Haul: $1 Trillion Since 2004

It might have been a biomass cogeneration plant in Brazil, or a wind farm in Mexico. Or maybe a solar thermal plant in Morocco. Whatever it was, somewhere around the world late last month the trillionth dollar was invested in clean energy since Bloomberg New Energy Finance began counting in 2004, the sector analyst said.

Bloomberg noted that 2004 was the year oil prices began to climb from $20 or so a barrel toward triple figures, where they hover now. “It was also the year,” Bloomberg said, “in which Germany introduced its groundbreaking feed-in tariff rules, which have been widely copied around the world.”

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Bloomberg said those factors and other incentives and initiatives have driven sharp increases in clean-energy investing – from $52 billion in 2004 to a record $243 billion last year. Proof enough, Bloomberg asserted, that whether the U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, results in a deal on carbon emissions is pretty much a moot point.

“The trillionth-dollar milestone shows that the world is not waiting for a deal on climate in order to start turning the super-tanker away from fossil fuels,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief executive Michael Liebreich said in a statement. “It should serve as a message to the U.N. and all those in Durban to stop obsessing about a binding deal to cap carbon emissions, and to think much harder about how to speed up investment in the solutions. Another five years of investment growth at the same compound rates, and the world will have broken the back of emissions growth.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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