Australia is a small greenhouse gas polluter in global terms, but one of the worst per capita because it relies heavily for its electricity on its abundant reserves of coal, which also make it the world’s largest exporter of the polluting fuel. As the driest continent after Antarctica, it is also considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. In 2015, 86% of electricity is generated from fossil fuels types (73% from coal and 13% from natural gas.) Renewable energy provided the remainder. Rooftop solar power passed 5 gigawatts of capacity in early 2016. link In 2015, Australia’s wind farms produced 33.7% of the country’s clean energy and supplied 4.9% of Australia’s overall electricity during the year. link Currently the biggest issue in Australia is survival of the Great Barrier Reef and the threat from coal plant development in Queensland (see sections below).
Most of the UK’s electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, mainly natural gas (42% in 2016) and coal (9% in 2016). Nuclear provides another 21%. Renewable technologies include wind, wave, marine, hydro, biomass and solar and make up 24.5%. The UK aims to meet its EU target of generating 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. link (Scotland by itself produced 68.1% of its electricity from green schemes in 2017.) Unless greenhouse gases are controlled, Britain faces an Arctic climate this century due to the loss of warm waters from the Gulf Stream. link
Out of 61 countries analyzed in 2012 for their policies and action on climate change, Canada fell to 58th place according to Climate Action Network Canada (CANC) Canada is the biggest carbon polluter per capita of major economies in the world because of the tar sands, which are the third largest reserve in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and up to 4.5 times more carbon intensive. link December 2017: Between 2005 and 2016, non-hydroelectric renewables, wind, solar and biomass, grew from 1.5% of total electricity generation in Canada to 7.2%. Hydro was responsible for almost 60% of Canada’s power in 2016. By 2016, solar capacity was 2,310MW, almost all of it in Ontario. During that same period coal fell from 16% to 9.3% as a source of power. Canada intends to eliminate coal as a source of power by 2030 and only four provinces still get any power from the fossil fuel. Only about 20% of Canada’s electricity comes from fossil fuels now, divided almost equally between coal and natural gas. Nuclear energy accounts for 15% of Canada’s electricity supply. The amount of electricity generated by the wind is 20 times what it was in 2005, and wind as a percentage of total power grew from just 0.2% in 2005 to 4.7% in 2016. link
February 2018: China’s coal consumption in 2017 picked up for the first time since 2013, despite Beijing’s push to promote less-polluting energy sources. However, as a portion of total energy consumption, coal usage fell to 60.4% while clean energy, including natural gas and renewables, rose to 20.8%. That indicates the country remains on track to fulfil its promise to decarbonise its economy and reduce air pollution, as it vowed to cut the coal portion to below 58% of total energy consumption by 2020.
China had a total of 163.7GW of installed wind capacity and 130.3GW of solar capacity by end 2017, up 10.5% and 68.7% compare to a year ago. Average level of major air pollutants fell significantly in 2017, with concentrations of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, known as PM2.5 in the smog-prone Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region dropped by 39.6% compared to five years ago. China aims to introduce even tougher air quality targets to cover the 2018 to 2020 period and to continue push the conversion of coal to clean energy. link
In the 1970s, Denmark was addicted to oil, burning petroleum not only to power its cars but also to generate electricity. More than forty years later, the country is rapidly gaining on a mid-century goal of being fossil fuel-free, thanks partly to a policy that gives Danish citizens the legal right to own a stake in wind farms. More than 40% of the country is now powered by wind, up from less than 25% a few years ago, and compared to only 5% in the United States. link Wind power produced the equivalent of 33% of Denmark’s total electricity consumption in 2013, 39% in 2014 and 42.1% in 2015. In 2012 the Danish government adopted a plan to increase the share of electricity production from wind to 50% by 2020, and to 84% in 2035.
Over the first eight months of 2016, Spain averaged an impressive 47.2% renewable energy share in its generation mix. Breaking down the renewable share reveals Spain to have developed a strong mix of renewable generating capacity: wind power (21.8%), hydroelectric (17.8%), solar PV (3.4%), solar thermal (2.4%), other (1.8%). The remaining 52.8%of the generation mix was made up by a variety of non-renewables, including: nuclear power (23.2%) and coal (10.5%). link