Clean energy on the fast track

Rows of wind turbines at the Altamont Pass wind farm in Byron, Calif.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: In a new report, the United Nations suggests a clean energy future may be closer than you think. The UN says renewable energy could provide almost of a quarter of the world's electricity by 2030. To this point, we've been hearing it'll be at least the second half of the century.The report has prompted some reaction in Europe today. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard joins us from London. Stephen, what's the basis for the UN's conclusion here?

Stephen Beard: The UN says the reason for this likely dramatic increase in the role of renewable energy is a big rush of money into these technologies: $70 billion last year. That was 43 percent more than the year before and the figure this year, says the UN, is likely to be more than $85 billion.

Jagow: So where's this money coming from?

Beard: The UN says this mini-flood of investment has come from private industry, from bankers and fund managers who are fed up with government dithering over climate change. They've spotted a market opportunity and they're getting in there. An the UN says that we could actually be close to a tipping point here, where clean energy becomes commercially attractive and therefore quickly becomes a kind of fundamental key component of global energy provision.

Jagow: Well we've been talking about this for a while now, investment in clean energy — it's one of the big topics du jour — but I'm sure that there is some skepticism about what the UN is saying here?

Beard: Well the International Energy Agency says the UN's figures are very interesting but need closer scrutiny, and Greenpeace says, great news if true. It points out that, OK $75 billion worth of investment is fine, but really it is peanuts when you compare it with the $1 trillion worth of energy investment last year around the world, the bulk of that of course going into fossil fuels.

Jagow: OK Stephen Beard in London thank you.

Beard: OK Scott.

Jagow: In Los Angeles, I'm Scott Jagow. Thanks for tuning in and have a great day.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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