Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief executive Michael Liebreich noted that 2004 was the year oil prices began to climb from $20 or so a barrel toward triple figures, where they hover now.
"It was also the year," Liebreich said, "in which Germany introduced its groundbreaking feed-in tariff rules, which have been widely copied around the world."
Liebreich said those factors and other incentives and initiatives have driven sharp increases in clean-energy investing – from $52 billion in 2004 to a record $243 billion last year.
Proof enough, Liebreich asserted, that whether the U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, results in a deal on carbon emissions is pretty much a moot point.
"The trillionth-dollar milestone shows that the world is not waiting for a deal on climate in order to start turning the super-tanker away from fossil fuels," Liebreich explained.
"It should serve as a message to the U.N. and all those in Durban to stop obsessing about a binding deal to cap carbon emissions, and to think much harder about how to speed up investment in the solutions. Another five years of investment growth at the same compound rates, and the world will have broken the back of emissions growth."