The World, Re-Energized

The shift to clean energy is unfolding faster than most realize — and despite worries to the contrary. Leaders must reckon with the implications of this accelerating transition to ensure business success and policy progress.

While recent headlines echo concerns that we are running out of time to avert the worst consequences of climate change, a more nuanced and more promising reality is unfolding.

Worldwide growth in renewable energy means we've already seen the peak of global demand for fossil fuels to generate electricity. Demand for gas- and diesel-powered vehicles — from two-wheelers to cars and trucks — is tracing a similar arc, as electric vehicles (EVs) win a rising share of sales. And, following in the footsteps of wind and solar, sales of battery storage are soaring as prices fall.

This transformation is without precedent — and it is gathering pace and scale. In a growing majority of the world's economy, it's now cheaper to install new wind or solar than to continue running existing coal-, diesel-, or gas-fired generators.

Across other energy-intensive industries, the exponential growth of more abundant, lower-cost, and cleaner electricity has set in motion a climate-benefitting domino effect. With growing clarity about clean energy's edge, the transportation and industry sectors are rewriting long-term business plans and mobilizing trillions in investment to build out permanent shifts away from fossil fuels.

Against a backdrop of rising climate urgency, these fronts of progress highlight a sense of possibility, progress, and hope. The challenge remains enormous, to be sure, but as the impacts of exponential progress unfold across the global economy, the promise of a world, re-energized is becoming reality.

Understanding the Global Energy Transition

The global energy transition is unfolding with unprecedented speed, spurred by the exponential growth of new solutions. The combination of the exponential growth of low-cost, clean energy coupled with continued gains in energy efficiency is creating a virtuous cycle, erasing growth for fossil fuels while setting the stage for a dramatic collapse in demand. Our analyses illuminate the big picture of this transition, from precedent-making historical antecedents to the latest data and modeling on the growth of renewables and the decline of fossil fuels.

Resources for Corporate Action

Climate change and the energy transition are transforming the global business landscape. The private sector plays an outsized role, and corporate leaders who act now will gain the advantages of first movers.

But some companies continue to underestimate the speed and scale with which the shift to a low-emissions economy is likely to unfold. Failing to recognize the substantial business opportunity associated with the transition carries significant strategic risk.

As leaders shift from ambition to action, accelerating systems transformation will be crucial. RMI's analysis can help companies design a corporate climate strategy to drive change and create new value in the climate-aligned economy.