IN years to come we will look back on the current decade and celebrate the fact that it heralded the first significant change from fossil fuels to more renewable forms of energy use that don’t produce CO2.

In some ways it’s similar to the drastic change in the years just before the First World War when horses gave way to motor vehicles, and unfortunately horse droppings were replaced with invisible CO2. If the latter was as visible as the manure we would have done something about it by now.

India is making the right decision, though for the wrong reason. It’s cancelled the plans to build more coal fired power stations because the cost of electricity from rapidly expanding solar energy schemes is making them unprofitable.

The growth of renewable energy schemes, mainly solar and wind, both on land and at sea is expanding rapidly with China and the US leading the way. Globally the last decade has seen a remarkable level of investment with capacity almost doubling by the year, and the rate is increasing on a national scale.

It’s all helped by much smaller local schemes that trial different approaches, and a good example is Oxspring, a village of a thousand people, on the old South Yorkshire coalfield near Barnsley.

Forty council houses are being provided with batteries to store the excess power from the solar panels on their roofs. This will allow its use to be spread over the whole day, and overcome the problem of the grid not coping with the excess power from very sunny periods.

However real progress will only be made when we significantly reduce the amount of flying, develop a less carbon intensive way of powering ships, and above all convert most car engines, now over one billion and increasing, to CO2 free electricity.

Until then CO2 levels will continue to increase.