Increasing confidence in the world of fossil fuels may end decades earlier than most polluters predict, offering early signs of hope in the global battle to resolve the climate crisis.
Climate green shoots have emerged amid a revolution in renewable energy, which promises an end to rising demand for oil and coal in the 2020s, before fossil fuels face a terminal downturn.
Top fossil fuels are expected to emerge decades ahead of forecasts by oil and mining companies, who bet that demand for polluting energy will increase by the 2040s.
But energy experts are adjusting their forecasts as clean energy technologies, including wind and solar, emerge faster than anticipated and at the cost of posing a direct threat to electricity and coal-fired engines.
In the UK, renewable energy projects generated more electricity during the last quarter of fossil fuels for the first time since the first public power plant in 1882 was fired. That's a significant change from 10 years ago, when gas and coal generated more than 70% of electricity in the UK.
The pace of progress has raised the hope that the global scale of climate protests may spark a new political will to accelerate energy transition in time to keep global temperatures from rising to levels that can cause climate disaster.
The UK Labor Party has pledged the Green Industrial Revolution to create nearly 70,000 new jobs while working to create a carbon-neutral economy by 2030. In the United States, the new Green Deal, led by Congresswoman Alexandria Okassio-Cortez, aims to virtually eliminate US greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade.
Within the energy industry, experts believe that the rapid growth of renewable energy sources in recent years may soon look glacial compared to the upcoming changes.
Michael Libreich, founder of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) research group, says replacing old technology with new technology is always "like waiting for a sneeze".
"The first 1% lasts forever, 1% to 5% is like waiting for a sneeze – you know it's inevitable, but it takes longer than you think – then 5% to 50% happens incredibly fast," he says.
The world is about to enter this period of rapid transformation soon, he says. This change promises to boost producers of fossil fuels that fail to adjust to the pace and lead to increased carbon emissions. More and more energy experts agree.
"Over the next decade we will see much faster than the expected emergence of many clean energy technologies, which will almost certainly mean a global platform for greenhouse gas emissions," Liberich adds.
The turnout is expected whether politicians increase their ambition or not, because the clean energy economy is now too strong to ignore.
Earlier this summer, BNEF announced that not only is renewable energy cheaper than building a new gas or coal plant, but it will soon be cheaper than using existing thermal power plants.
This economic point of trash means you will save money by shutting down existing coal plants and building new renewable energy projects from scratch. Abundant clean electricity can help remove emissions from the world's transportation and heating systems.
By 2030, BNEF expects to increase road fuel demand, while coal is expected to peak by 2026. DNV GL, a global energy adviser, believes that by the same year oil will no longer be the world's largest source of energy, and by the end of the 2020s, world demand for crude will begin to decline.
"It gives a lot of hope," says Seb Schenbast, the lead author of the BNEF report. "It provides a counterbalance to the calamity and darkness we face, in part because it includes up-to-date data that tells a slightly different story."
It is a cautionary tale for companies with fossil fuels who believe that world demand for polluting energy will continue to grow until mid-century. It is also a new narrative of hope, he says.
"We are much further than we were. And yes, we need to go faster. And yes, it's difficult and complicated. But at the same time we are now living in a world where two-thirds of the world's population lives in a country where wind and solar power are the cheapest form of new electricity capacity. We have the tools to do that, "he says.
Chris Stark, head of the UK's official climate change adviser, the Climate Change Committee, says the precedent set by the renewables industry proves that new technologies to capture carbon emissions can follow.
“Even 10 years ago, we were looking at a different trajectory for global temperatures. We have crossed the trajectory of what today looks like 3C warming [above pre-industrial levels], but before that we were well over; 4C, maybe even higher, ”he says.
Progress to date is still insufficient to meet the global goals set by the Paris climate agreement, but the greenhouse gas emissions plateau by 2030 could play a major role in preventing catastrophic global warming above 3C. It also proves that further ambition could bring the world closer to the goal of sub-2Ц.
"This change is a testament to new climate policies and the work being done around the world. We need to do more than that, "he adds.
The UK plans to lead the world's future climate ambitions. Next year, Glasgow will host the 26th UN Climate Conference on Climate Change, known as COP26, to draft a roadmap that maintains rising temperatures and 2C above sub-industrialized levels.
MP Clare Perry, president of COP26, says climate talks are "where the rubber will hit the road to the historic Paris agreement". She adds that "expectations are high" because of "increased public concern about climate change", but the UK is ready to meet those expectations.