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The Clean Energy Revolution

Fighting Climate Change With Innovation

A soon-to-be completed solar park at Sanlucar La Mayor, near Seville, May 2007. Javier Barbancho / Reuters

As the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris came to a close in December 2015, foreign ministers from around the world raised their arms in triumph. Indeed, there was more to celebrate in Paris than at any prior climate summit. Before the conference, over 180 countries had submitted detailed plans to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. And after two weeks of intense negotiation, 195 countries agreed to submit new, stronger plans every five years.

But without major advances in clean energy technology, the Paris agreement might lead countries to offer only modest improvements in their future climate plans. That will not be enough. Even if they fulfill their existing pledges, the earth will likely warm by some 2.7 to 3.5 degrees Celsius—risking planetary catastrophe. And cutting emissions much more is a political nonstarter, especially in developing countries such as India, where policymakers must choose between powering economic growth and phasing out dirty fossil fuels.

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