Pressure on polluters set to grow in 2016, as year starts with storms


With 2016 already forecast to be the hottest year on record, extreme weather events, like those which have battered countries across the world this New Year look set to become the new normal. From floods in the UK to storms and unprecedented winter warmth in the US, forest fires in Australia and a North Pole ‘heatwave’, the conditions are being blamed on a record El Niño effect combined with rising global temperatures. But while the impacts of climate change have never been so apparent, neither have the solutions, and with last month’s Paris Agreement showing leaders’ intent to achieve 100 per cent renewables, real world progress is set to gather speed. Clean energy financing and installations will climb as fossil fuels slither, with a methane leak forcing Californians out of their homes the latest example of how dirty energy endangers health, communities and investments. And with its climate-denying lies, lobbying and greenwashing common knowledge, the big energy sector has run out of strategies to stay afloat. While there are many unknowns ahead this year, what is certain is that civil society will continue to mobilise, governments crack down on coal, campaigners use the courts to impose change, and institutions and investors force polluters to come clean on their unsustainable business models. In this way, 2016 is set to bring a fully renewable energy system a big step closer.



Key Points

  • A warming planet means food shortages, droughts, unrest and suffering. The expected record-breaking global temperatures this year will have dire consequences on the world’s most vulnerable, helping disease to spread, stunting crop growth, destroying habitats and affecting water supplies. Only cutting carbon emissions and ending fossil fuel use will slow global warming and the destruction it does.

  • The energy transition will continue: the faster it does, the better for people and planet. Investment in renewables, and renewable energy’s market share, is bounding upwards. New funds, alliances, investments and projects show the trend will accelerate in 2016. Clean and safe renewable energy does not require controversial pipelines, leak dangerous gases, spew carbon into the air, cause illness or trigger extreme weather.

  • People will keep the pressure on polluters. Civil society will build on the worldwide actions before Paris to mobilise in ever larger numbers for an end to dirty energy this year. More private and institutional investors will cut free of big energy as it is forced to own up to the unsustainability of its business model. Groups from economists to activists will ensure polluters feel the heat and have no choice but to embrace a sustainable future.



2016 preview

Extreme weather




  • “The Paris agreement represents a huge change for the world. We are now in a transition to a low carbon economy. Business as usual is no longer an option for carbon intensive companies. We will be looking at how those carbon intensive companies disclose the risks that they face and where they’re not disclosing them effectively and appropriately we will submit complaints to the regulator to take action.” – Dave Cooke, Company and Financial lawyer for ClientEarth

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