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Three places changing rapidly to combat climate change

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glacier Shrinkingcoral reef is in danger Last year it was hottest on record. carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphereAs people continue to burn fossil fuels, major greenhouse gases have passed dangerous new thresholds. Is there progress on climate change anywhere?

The short answer is: It’s complicated, but yes.

In South America, one country generated nearly all of its electricity from a variety of renewable energy sources in less than a decade. In China, an electric car that sells for just $5,000 has suddenly become one of the best-selling cars. Paris is transforming itself into a city of bicycles.

Such measures alone will not be enough to avert the worst consequences of climate change—increased droughts, more storms, and human misery. Still, they illustrate how some places can achieve significant local change quickly.

International Energy Agency analyst Thomas Spencer said that globally, “we are not moving as fast as we need to”. “But we definitely have the tools to speed things up.”

“Climate solutions do exist. They are here now,” said Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown, a nonprofit focused on climate action.

In honor of Earth Day (and in an effort to appeal to young, environmentally conscious voters), President Biden Promote new national plans Train and hire climate-related staff and remind voters of the clean energy investments being made under the Inflation Reduction Act.

These plans are just getting started, but around the world, climate solutions are already a ubiquitous part of everyday life.

Situated between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay has a population of 3.4 million and generates almost all of its electricity from renewable sources. Year 2008, Government sets goals Transforming a power grid already reliant on imported oil.

The country has large amounts of hydroelectric power, but successive droughts in the 1990s and 2000s reduced the capacity of dams. Uruguay is forced to import oil at unstable prices and faces shortages and power outages. Officials took note of the increasing cost competitiveness of renewable energy, especially wind energy, and set out to build the local wind industry almost from the ground up.

Between 2013 and 2018, wind power grew dramatically from almost zero to about a quarter of Uruguay’s electricity mix.By the end of 2022, the latest year for which data are available, Uruguay generated more than 90% battery From renewable energy sources, wind and solar are still growing despite the decline in hydropower.

The small country is a particularly rapid example of massive global growth in renewable energy.

The combination of electricity and heat is Largest source of human greenhouse gas emissions. But Bill Hare, CEO and senior scientist at the international climate science and policy organization Climate Analysis, said that in “many, many countries now” renewables are growing faster than electricity demand and replacing fossil fuels in the power sector. “This will most likely put us on the path to one-and-a-half degrees and anything close to it within the next five years.”

Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Sales of electric vehicles have grown exponentially over the past decade, and China is by far their largest market.about 7.3 million pure electric vehicles According to the International Energy Agency, it will be sold around the world by 2022. More than half of them (approximately 4.4 million units) were sold in China.

Historically, large cities like Shanghai have driven this trend. But in recent years, China’s smaller cities have begun to capture a larger share of the market. In 2022, the two cities with the largest proportion of electric vehicles in total new car registrations are Sanya, a seaside resort city on Hainan Island, and Liuzhou, an industrial hub in southern China. Pure electric vehicles account for approximately 40% of new car registrations in these two cities, much higher than the national average of 19%. According to a recent report Developed by the International Council on Clean Transportation.

The success of electric vehicles in China depends partly on policy and partly on sheer convenience and affordability. The most popular electric car in China right now is the Hongguang Mini, a small two-door model that sells for about $5,000. It is produced at the Liuzhou plant of SAIC-GM-Wuling, a Santong International joint venture.

Some cities are trying not only to electrify cars but also to replace them with cleaner modes of transportation such as bicycles where possible. In 2021, Paris officials announced a plan to make their city “100% cycle friendly“Within the next five years.

Paris has begun a year-long effort to do away with cars in the city center, or at least reduce their numbers. Between 2001 and 2018, the number of car trips in Paris fell by 60%. During the same period, public transport trips increased by 40% and bicycle trips by 20%.

Cycling has boomed even more in recent years, partly due to the creation of new bike lanes nicknamed “coronapistes” during the coronavirus pandemic,” or “Corona Lane”. The share of trips by bicycle in Paris more than doubled between 2020 and 2024. from 5% to 11%According to the Paris Regional Institute, an urban planning agency serving cities across Europe.

Paris currently has more than 1,000 kilometers of cycle lanes and will add 180 kilometers under current plans, along with tens of thousands of bicycle parking spaces and new traffic light patterns that prioritize cyclists and public transport.

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