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UN Report: Renewable Energy Spending Set Record In 2015

For the first time, renewable spending by the developing world exceeded that of the developed world.

Global spending on renewable energy generation set a new record last year, according to a newly released report from the UN's environmental agency.

The United Nations Environment Programme's annual Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment Report said that clean energy projects — including solar, wind and other renewable sources aside from large hydroelectric systems — accounted for $286 billion in spending in 2015.

The 2015 level eclipsed the previous record, set in 2011, by about 3 percent.

In addition, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of electricity generation investment worldwide — more than 53 percent — and renewable spending by the developing world exceeded that of the developed world.

The report largely attributed the increases in the developing world to China, which boosted its investment in renewables by 17 percent. At nearly $103 billion, China alone accounted for more than one-third of renewable spending worldwide.

Overall, developing nations increased renewable investment by 19 percent while developed countries saw their spending decline by 8 percent. Other developing nations to bolster their renewable energy efforts included Chile, India, Mexico and South Africa, the report said.

The overwhelming prevalence of coal- and gas-fired electrical capacity resulted in renewables accounting for just more than 10 percent of the world's electricity last year, but UN officials argued that structural change in how humanity produces energy is underway.

"These are transitions and trends that are remarkable and would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

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