Renewables Beat Coal in U.S. Power Generation In 2022, French Unveil Water Saving Plans, UN Passes Island Nation Climate Crisis Resolution

by | Apr 6, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Renewables Beat Coal in U.S. Power Generation In 2022, French Unveil Water Saving Plans, UN Passes Island Nation Climate Crisis Resolution



Great news for renewable energy! According to the Associated Press, electricity generated from renewables surpassed coal in the United States for the first time in 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced. Renewables also surpassed nuclear generation in 2022 after first doing so last year. Growth in wind and solar significantly drove the increase in renewable energy and contributed 14% of the electricity produced domestically in 2022. Hydropower contributed 6%, and biomass and geothermal sources generated less than 1%.

Stephen Porder, a professor of ecology and assistant provost for sustainability at Brown University,said, “I’m happy to see we’ve crossed that threshold, but that is only a step in what has to be a very rapid and much cheaper journey.” California produced 26% of the national utility-scale solar electricity followed by Texas with 16% and North Carolina with 8%. The most wind generation occurred in Texas, which accounted for 26% of the U.S. total followed by Iowa (10%) and Oklahoma (9%).

Why does this matter to us? As Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said, “This booming growth is driven largely by economics. Over the past decade, the levelized cost of wind energy declined by 70 percent, while the levelized cost of solar power has declined by an even more impressive 90 percent.” In other words, renewable energy is now the most affordable source of new electricity in much of the country.

Looking ahead, it’s predicted that the wind share of the U.S. electricity generation will increase from 11% to 12% in 2023 and that solar will grow from 4% to 5% during the period. Coal is projected to decline from 20% last year to 17%.



 As reported by the Associated Press, President Emmanuel Macron launched a broad plan on Thursday to ensure that France has sovereignty over its water resources, growing increasingly scarce because of climate change, challenging farmers, drying lakes and leaving some households without water running from their faucets. The water problem is urgent, he said, affirming that climate change will deprive France of 30% to 40% of available water by 2050.

Macron’s trip to a town in the Hautes-Alpes region of southwest France that has suffered water shortages was an opportunity to address climate change, a topic that concerns youth. Students and other youth have been increasingly present at protest marches, demanding an array of topics like ecology and climate change be addressed.

The speech notably comes after a weekend of pitched battles in a field in rural France between security forces and militant ecologists that shocked the nation, turning the pastoral countryside into what looked like a war zone. The militants are opposed to a water basin being created to help farmers irrigate their fields. Macron laid out 50 measures to put France on track this summer and beyond, stressing that water is precious, and France has thus far failed to strategize effectively to save water. To ensure citizens use it sparingly, he announced gradual price increases for use of water for “comfort.”

France suffered from a major drought in 2022 and winter drought in February, an alert for the years ahead. Why does what France intends to do to save water matter to us? Because, in France today, less than 1% of used water is treated for reuse. That’s 10, 15, 20 times less than other countries. Macron’s goal for France is to have 10% of its water recycled and reused by 2030. 



Last week, The countries of the United Nations led by the island state of Vanuatu adopted what they called a historic resolution calling for the U.N.‘s highest court to strengthen countries’ obligations to curb warming and protect communities from climate disaster.

The resolution was adopted by consensus and Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau called it “a win for climate justice of epic proportions.” He reeled off a string of recent disasters including back-to-back Category 4 cyclones in his own country and record-breaking Cyclone Freddy that refused to leave southeastern Africa in recent weeks. “Catastrophic and compound effects like this are growing in number,” he said.

Like many Pacific Island nations Vanuatu is at risk of rising seas engulfing swathes of the islands. Scientists say both extreme weather and sea levels have worsened because of climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The resolution asks the court to pay particular attention to the harm endured by small island states.

Youth groups bolstered the effort, citing the need to protect the planet for current and future generations. Cynthia Houniuhi of the Solomon Islands, president of Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change, a group involved in getting the resolution to the General Assembly, told the Associated Press, “I don’t want to show a picture to my child one day of my island. The environment that sustains us is disintegrating before our eyes.”

The resolution now goes to the International Court of Justice. Why does this resolution and the ICJ matter to us? The International Court of Justice is the only legal authority that has a mandate to look at all of international law. While the advisory opinion itself is not binding, the laws upon which the advisory opinion will be speaking absolutely are legally binding and immediately applicable to states.