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Government spending on clean energy jumped by $500 billion since the beginning of the year

An illustration of a coin with a tree and an "S" for sustainability is dropped into a slot of globe-shaped "piggy bank".
Image Credit: Nate Merritt/FootPrint Coalition

Government spending on clean energy projects worldwide has jumped by nearly half-a-trillion dollars, according to the International Energy Agency.

The spending, boosted by Europe's response to the war in Ukraine and U.S. and Indian efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption, marks an unprecedented surge in efforts to bring down greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption of renewable energy resources.

Since the start of the pandemic, the world's governments have spent over $1.2 trillion on renewable energy.

These commitments from governments will likely be matched by private spending to develop the projects. All in, the IEA expects roughly $2 trillion annually to be spent on clean energy by 2030.

“The responses from governments to the crisis are going in the right direction,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “The unprecedented financial support we are seeing for clean energy transitions is improving energy security and dampening the impact of high fuel prices on customers. But there are worrying geographical imbalances, with many emerging and developing economies at risk of being left behind if the international community does not step in to help them mobilise much more clean energy investment.”

Birol's concerns center on the fact that advanced economies account for 95% of the clean energy investment around the world.

Emerging economies, which don't have the same capacity to spend heavily have been left out of the energy transition given a focus on basic needs for their nations' citizens.

Most of the funds governments are spending on reducing fossil fuel emissions are directed at either low-carbon transportation or renewable power and energy efficiency.

Another $630 billion has been spent to provide funds for people and businesses hit hard by skyrocketing fossil fuel energy costs.

Access to electricity is considered to be a human need by the United Nations and it's something of a priority under the global Sustainable Development Goals.

That's one reason why, despite the increasing investments in renewables, the International Energy Agency is concerned that 75 million people who gained access to energy services can't afford them anymore. And it's one reason that the statistic indicating the number of people without has started to rise is also so concerning.

Chief among the world's priorities is ensuring that access to electricity means access to renewable electricity.

In June of last year, Birol, the head of the IEA called for more investment into emerging markets' energy infrastructure.

“In many emerging and developing economies, emissions are heading upwards while clean energy investments are faltering, creating a dangerous fault line in global efforts to reach climate and sustainable energy goals,’’ Birol said in a statement at the time. “Countries are not starting on this journey from the same place – many do not have access to the funds they need to rapidly transition to a healthier and more prosperous energy future – and the damaging effects of the Covid-19 crisis are lasting longer in many parts of the developing world.”

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