The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report today with good news for clean energy projects and companies across the globe. Despite the recession, investment in sustainable energy grew by about five percent last year, up from $148 billion in 2007 to about $155 billion in 2008.
Before getting too excited, it's important to remember last year's five percent increase pales in comparison to the spikes in sustainable energy investment in recent years. (2008 investments were about four times higher than in 2004, yet only increased by $7 billion from 2007.) And even with political, economic and media attention on "going green," renewable energies still only account for about 6.2 percent of the power sector's capacity.
But considering the state of the economy, any rise in clean energy investment is greeted with open arms. President Obama supports a federal cap and trade scheme, and it is likely global leaders meeting in Copenhagen in December will push for a global network of carbon markets, putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UNEP report, global investments in clean energy must reach $500 billion each year by 2020 in order to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report warned global carbon emissions must peak in 2015 to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, so this commitment to sustainable energy comes not a moment too soon. See UNEP's press release for clean energy highlights from countries around the world.