Global investment in renewable energy generation was double that in coal and gas-fired power generation plants last year, in a record year for renewables.
It was the first time that renewable energy made up the majority of all the new energy generation capacity under construction around the globe, and the first year in which the investment by developing countries in renewables outstripped that of the developed world.
About $286bn (£200bn) was invested globally in renewable energy last year, more than the previous peak of $278bn reached in 2011, according to research published on Thursday by the UN Environment Programme (Unep).
China alone accounted for 36% of the global total, as the country pins it hopes on clean energy as a means of combating air pollution. Chinese investment rose 17% from 2014 to 2015, totalling $103bn.
In the US, money committed to renewables rose strongly as new rules took effect. Although investment was up by a fifth, to $44bn, it was still less than half of China’s.
Europe, once world leader in clean energy, gave one of the worst showings. Investment fell by a fifth to $49bn, despite a surge in offshore wind, according to the report, which was co-authored by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
Solar power had a particularly good year, according to Unep, with a 12% increase in investment to $161bn globally, while the boost to wind was much smaller, an increase of about 4% in dollar terms to $110bn.
In part, these headline investment figures reflect falling costs, particularly for solar panels, which have tumbled in price by more than 60% since 2009. But they also illustrate the need for politicians to play a role in encouraging clean technology, according to Mitchell.
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This article has been adapted from an article published by The Guardian.