Australia, the world’s second-largest exporter of coal, has also quietly become a renewable energy powerhouse thanks to the country’s homeowners.
About one in four Australian homes have rooftop solar panels, a larger share than in any other major economy, and the rate of installations far outpaces the global average. In California, which leads U.S. states in the use of solar power, less than 10 percent of utility customers have rooftop solar panels.
Many Australians who have embraced solar are responding to incentives offered by state governments in the absence of a coordinated federal approach, a sharp drop in the price of solar panels in recent years and an increase in electricity rates.
The uptake has been especially high in Queensland, which makes up a big chunk of the country’s northeast and includes Cairns and Brisbane. The state has hot, humid weather similar to Florida’s and also calls itself the Sunshine State.
Even politically conservative homeowners have also embraced solar to become less reliant on the electricity grid in keeping with the high value many Australians place on rugged individualism.
Peter Row of Bundaberg, a city just over 200 miles north of Brisbane that had the most rooftop solar installations last year in Australia, bought a typical 6.57-kilowatt system for his home after he grew tired of his rising electricity bill.
Mr. Row believes the climate is changing but, like many other conservatives, isn’t sure how much of the change is caused by humans, he said. “I don’t think renewables are the total answer yet,” he said.
On Wednesday, prosecutors in Munich will begin presenting evidence the first trial in Germany stemming from Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal, in which the company was caught using illegal software to conceal the fact that its “clean diesels” were actually rolling pollution machines.
On trial is Rupert Stadler, the former chief executive of Volkswagen’s Audi luxury car division, who belonged to the top echelon of its leadership.
The case will test whether prosecutors can overcome the difficulties inherent in trying to convict top managers protected by layers of underlings. That is a problem that has also frustrated investigators in the United States when prosecuting corporate crime.
Mr. Stadler faces charges of fraud and false advertising stemming from accusations that Audi continued to sell diesel cars with illegal software even after United States authorities uncovered the cheating in 2015. Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche cars were programmed to meet air-quality standards while being tested, but they spewed copious amounts of diesel fumes in regular driving.