Below are a few data visualizations related to the renewable energy transition, most of which are included in the RE21 textbook.
The visual above summarizes the energy-environment-economy connection. Economic theory tells us that growth is good, but it doesn’t tell us that growth requires materials and energy. Over the past 200 years that energy has come in the form of fossil fuels, which has led to increasing carbon-dioxide emissions and global climate change. It also means that wealthier countries require more energy, and since that energy is currently in the form of fossil fuels, they also emit more greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy transition, if properly done, can lead to a situation where energy consumption breaks away from greenhouse gas emissions. It won’t be easy, and many think that on a global level it is impossible, but some countries are getting it done. Decoupling is the idea that we can tear apart energy consumption from emissions, leading to a situation where we can enjoy the comforts of modern life without destroying the climate.