By Matthew McDermott Bloomberg

New Energy Finance has announced that the clean energy sector has passed a very notable benchmark.

Since records began being kept in 2004, one trillion dollars have been invested. Why 2004? NEF says that this was the year in which oil began its rise from the $20/ba rrel range to the $100 range and when Germany began its world benchmark feed-in tariff program for renewables energy.

Bloomberg chief executive Michael Liebreich says: The trillionth dollar milestone shows that the world is not waiting for a deal on climate in order to start turning the supertanker away from fossil fuels. It should serve as a message to the UN and all those in Durban to stop obsessing about a binding deal to cap carbon emissions, and to think much harder about how to speed up investment in the solutions.

Another five years of investment growth at the same compound rates, and the world will have broken the back of emissions growth. I’m not quite sure the last part of Liebreich’s statement is factually accurate, considering the scale of new fossil fuel power plants already under construction and which (wishful thinking aside) aren’t going to be decommissioned before ever being turned on, but there is a great kernel of inspiration in it.

Our energy sources are choices to be made, not inevitabilites. We can choose to use fossil fuels or we can choose to use non-polluting sources of energy.

Each has advantages and limitations, or at minimum logistical differences, but neither is something that just happens, absent human influence. Whether we continue to use energy sources that pollute, and the degree to which they pollute, is a conscious choice.

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