Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnell

Climate Desk Associate Producer

Tim McDonnell joined Climate Desk after stints at Mother Jones and Sierra magazine. He remains a cheerful guy despite covering climate change all the time. Originally from Tucson, Tim loves tortillas and epic walks.

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The US Solar Market Is Growing Ridiculously Fast

At the end of 2015, the solar industry experienced something of a Christmas miracle when Congress unexpectedly extended a package of vital tax credits for renewable energy that were set to expire. Overnight, 2016 went from looking like it was certain to be a bust to looking like one of the biggest growth years on record.

New analysis from the energy market research firm GTM paints a picture of the awesome year solar installers in the United States have ahead of them. GTM predicts solar installations to jump 119 percent in 2016, adding 16 gigawatts of new solar by year's end. (For reference, in 2011 there were only 10 gigawatts of solar installed total across the country.) Most of that is utility-scale solar farms, with the remainder coming from rooftop panels on homes and businesses.

This clean energy boost isn't just a boon for the industry; as a result of the tax credit extension, greenhouse gas savings from solar and wind installations could add up by 2030 to the equivalent of taking every car in the country off the road for two years, a recent study found.

Here's the chart from the report. Show this to anyone who still thinks solar is some kind of fringe, hippie pipe dream:

GTM Research/SEIA

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The headline negotiations during the Paris climate summit in December were between national governments: What would China, the United States, and other big emitters be willing to do? But just outside the spotlight, some of the most optimistic commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, ramp up clean energy, and invest in adaptive measures were being made by cities.

A new analysis from social scientists at University College London sheds some new light on the money behind those municipal efforts—and the results paint a highly uneven picture. The researchers compared spending on climate adaptation in 10 major global cities—that is, investments in infrastructure, public health, water systems, etc., aimed at making them more resistant to climate change. All 10 cities are members of the Compact of Mayors, an initiative to hold cities to a high standard of climate action.

On average among those 10 cities, spending on climate adaptation accounted for one-fifth of one percent of GDP in 2015, or about $855 million. Not surprisingly, cities in wealthier countries such the US and the UK spent far more than cities in African countries and Southeast Asia:


Cities in developing countries also lag behind on spending on a per-capita basis. (The Paris figure is so high in part because the study counted population just within a city's official boundaries, not the surrounding metropolitan area, and Paris' boundaries are relatively small)…


...and as a share of GDP:


The findings illustrate that spending on climate adaptation is more a function of wealth, and the value of local real estate, than the size of a city's population or its relative vulnerability to climate impacts. The researchers conclude that "current adaptation activities are insufficient in major population centres in developing and emerging economies."

That may not be very surprising—of course New York and London will be better able to rally funds for climate readiness than Addis Ababa. But it's an important snapshot of the uphill battle developing countries face in confronting climate change.

This post has been updated.

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