5 clean energy stats that will wow your friends on New Year’s Eve

With these surprising facts at your fingertips, you’ll be the life of the (virtual) party.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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(Bettmann/Getty Images)

Nothing spices up a New Year’s Eve gathering more than fun facts about the fast-moving global shift to clean energy. If your friends are feeling down in the face of Covid and climate catastrophe, these tidbits of progress are sure to cheer them up. Whether you’re congregating on Zoom or braving an in-person gathering bolstered by booster shots, we’ve got you covered.

1. 90 percent of Americans like solar energy

And 83 percent support wind power, according to a Pew Research Center survey. We highlighted these figures in a chart recently, noting, These are Dolly Parton–level approval numbers that cut across parties and cohorts — yet most politicians and the mainstream press choose to consistently overlook the public’s overwhelming love for renewable power sources.”

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2. Just over 3 million Americans work in the clean energy sector

That’s more than the number of lawyers, police officers, farmers, firefighters, kindergarten teachers and mail carriers combined, according to the nonprofit E2. It means that one in every 50 American workers today is in clean energy, and they’re spread throughout all 435 congressional districts. Most of these jobs are in energy efficiency, working on everything from home energy retrofits to more efficient heating and cooling systems.

3. 20 percent of renewable energy development in the U.S. this decade could be driven by corporate clean energy buyers

Companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are leading the way on renewable energy and dragging utilities and state governments along with them. Corporate procurement will account for about one-fifth of utility-scale renewable power additions through 2030, IHS Markit projected last year. Figures from this year are even stronger: There was 7.9 gigawatts’ worth of new corporate renewable energy project announcements in the first three quarters of 2021, equivalent to 40% of all new carbon-free energy capacity added in the U.S. over that period, according to the Clean Energy Buyers Association.

4. 71% of Americans are interested in buying EVs

Electric vehicles are not just for Norwegians anymore. Americans are increasingly open to going electric. In a 2020 survey by Consumer Reports, 4 percent said they’re definitely buying electric next, 27 percent said they’re considering electric for their next car and 40 percent said they had some interest” in a future EV purchase. And that was before new, sexy models were introduced in 2021, like Ford’s electric F-150 pickup truck. Sales figures in the U.S. are still lagging far behind that level of professed interest, but that’s changing fast.

5. Global sales of plug-in electric vehicles are expected to top 6 million in 2021

And sales of EVs in September 2021 surpassed 685,000, a new all-time monthly record. Automakers across the globe have a combined target of selling 40 million EVs a year by 2030, and at least six automakers, including General Motors and Ford, plan to sell only zero-emissions cars by 2040.

This list was inspired and partly drawn from the November 24 episode of Political Climate, a biweekly podcast about the most pressing energy and climate issues of our time, hosted by Julia Pyper, Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton. You can listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get podcasts. Follow the show on Twitter at @Poli_Climate. Political Climate is presented by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and Canary Media. 

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.