After Putin attacked Ukraine, and gas supplies to Europe were cut, environmentalists thought desperately about how much more polluting emissions would increase.
European countries scrambled to buy gas left and right to stock up for the winter, and mothballed coal-fired power plants were reopened. Climate targets seemed even harder to reach in this situation, and many environmental activists showed their frustration.
Fortunately, however, all these actions didn’t stop massive investment in renewable energy, especially in Europe. The war in Ukraine accelerated the shift to green energy, and 2022 was a landmark year in the field.
Ember, a British think tank, says that by 2022 energy from renewables had overtaken that from natural gas in Europe. Coal has already been overtaken on the continent in 2019.
Also read: The fastest change in history: What’s happening today with solar panels and wind turbines is astounding
What’s more, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), last year was the first in which investment in renewable energy projects surpassed that in fossil fuel-based projects.
“The fossil fuel crisis has distracted people from the full picture and we’re only now realizing what a turning point 2022 was,” Ember representative Dave Jones told the Toronto Star.
Mark Winfield, professor of environmental studies at York University, said Europe was motivated to invest heavily in green energy and because it had learned an important lesson: it is dangerous to rely on an external source of energy.
Instead of seeking new sources of gas and oil for future winters, he said, Europe is moving away from fossil fuel markets.
Demand for electric cars and heat pumps grows rapidly
According to research firm BloombergNEF, more than $1 trillion will be invested in renewable energy globally for the first time in 2022.
At the same time, British Petroleum, one of the world’s largest oil companies, reported that demand for oil is falling faster than expected. According to a company report, natural gas consumption will fall 5% faster annually than estimated before the invasion, and oil consumption 6% faster. This will mean global CO2 emissions in 2030 will be 3.7% lower and those in 2050 9.3% lower than BP’s pre-war estimate.
Also read: IEA: 2022 a better year for the environment, thanks to electric cars and renewables
“Yes, there is still a market for gas and oil, but it’s a declining market,” Merran Smith, founder of Clean Energy Canada, a program at Simon Fraser University, told the source.
Consumers are also contributing to this revolution. Last year, 13% of new cars sold worldwide were electric, according to the IEA. The percentage was just 3% in 2019.
At the same time, people are ditching gas and other fossil fuel heating sources and switching to eco-friendly alternatives. These are being replaced at an accelerating rate with heat pumps.