The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

A wind turbine, in Germany of course.  

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

With the United Nations Climate Summit near at hand, the Energy Information Administration has published a short, chartified reminder of just how far the United States is behind Europe when it comes to generating no-carbon electricity. Behold—we’re the stumpy bar at the bottom.

And for a sense of progress, here’s what the chart looked like in 2002.

While most of the countries that produce at least half of their power from zero-carbon sources rely heavily on nuclear and hydroelectric power, the U.S. has been slow to convert its power sources to renewables like wind, solar, or biomass. The transition hasn’t gone smoothly all over Europe; in Germany, the cost of going green has been immense enough that Der Spiegel ran a feature titled “How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.” Still, you can get a quick sense of how much catching up we have to do.