Daniel Kammen and Berkeley Researchers finds that China is the only Nation on track to triple its Renewable Capacity by 2030

Amid continuing geopolitical tensions, climate change remains a key area of collaboration between the United States and China. Ahead of last November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28, Presidents Biden and Xi reaffirmed their commitment to work jointly—and together with other countries—to address the climate crisis and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Central to the agreement, now known as the “Sunnylands Statement,” is a commitment to
supporting efforts to triple the global production of renewable energy by 2030. That goal, which
is the only quantitative target in the agreement, was previously identified as a key target by the
International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) and
agreed to by G20 leaders during their September 2023 meeting.

A study published today in Environmental Research Letters by UC Berkeley researchers finds
that the global growth rate of renewable and low-carbon energy capacity is insufficient to meet
this target. Using historical data from IRENA and the IEA, the authors project that China is by far
the closest to triple its capacity by 2030, while the five remaining regions—the U.S., European
Union, the African continent, Central and South America, and the rest of the world—will fall

“The climate crisis is now an emergency of inaction on a true energy transition,” said co-author
Daniel Kammen, the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Professor of Sustainability in the
Energy and Resources Group (ERG), the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Department
of Nuclear Engineering. “While some specific policies and the actions of some nations show that a clean, green energy future can be achieved, we must be more systematic, holistic, and
aggressive in our actions.”

“It’s heartening to see the exponential deployment of the past decade, and 2023 saw by far the
biggest gains yet,” said co-author Ari Ball-Burack, a PhD student in ERG. “Moving forward, the
U.S. and China have a responsibility to concretely facilitate renewables deployment worldwide.”

Co-author Xi Xi, a graduate student in ERG, notes that the greatest challenge the U.S. and
China face will be facilitating and supporting efforts toward tripling renewable energy capacity
elsewhere. Renewable energy deployment and power sector expansion are crucial to Africa’s
sustainable development goals, yet so much of the continent’s energy development has been
historically under-invested. The IEA estimates that more than $200 billion per year of investment by 2030 is required to achieve key energy goals and facilitate a just and inclusive climate transition. Comparable levels of investment are also needed in Central and South America and across the rest of the world.

Read their full analysis in Environmental Research Letters.