Renewables Update

Nothing to gain for Trump in Japanese

7 June 2017 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute
(First published on ETC Göteborg on 7 June 2017 in Swedish)

President Trump has decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement to limit the risks of climate change. He says it is because he "was chosen to serve the residents of Pittsburgh, not Paris". It sounded good, but it was not so wise. The global climate policy is not meant to protect the residents of Paris. It is about protecting the world from climate change that is so rapid that they lead to human suffering and large numbers of refugees.

His policy to increase the production of carbon dioxide and stop the development of renewable energy has so far gone badly. In the first three months of 2017, electricity generation with fossil fuels in the US decreased by 36 TWh compared to the same period last year. Nuclear power decreased by 2 TWh, while renewable electricity increased by 16 TWh. LEDs and other modern technologies reduced the power consumption despite economic growth.

The risks of rapid climate change are due to burning fossil fuels to drive vehicles, produce electricity, and produce heat. In the 20th century this was the cheapest energy. But this has now changed. Solar electricity, wind power, together with hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal energy, can solve energy supply cheaper. This has been shown in the last 18 months, much faster than anyone expected.

Solar electricity can be purchased at 30 USD / MWh, and is now cheaper per unit energy than crude oil at 50 USD / barrel. Tesla has shown that battery-powered electric cars have better performance than petrol and diesel cars. Wind power on land can be even cheaper than solar energy, and in Germany, energy companies have committed to producing offshore wind power without subsidies.

As a result, renewable energy is growing faster than other ways of producing electricity, and electric cars are taking more and more of the world's automotive markets.

Trump's decision does not seem to be rational even from a self-centered point of view. It will not help the United States or its industry. It appears simply unwise.

The most successful companies in the US already buy renewable electricity. They see the benefits of buying cheap renewable electricity that does not destroy the world, instead creating conditions for global economic development. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Walmart, 3M, Facebook and many others are just some of the companies that invest in renewable energy instead of fossil or nuclear.

The technological development achieved in the United States for solar cells, batteries and electric cars has been the basis of recent years of industrial development. Many of the approximately 10 million people in the world who are employed in the renewable energy sector work in the United States.

Elon Musk, who pushed the development of Tesla and several other bold technology projects in the United States, has announced earlier that if Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement he would leave Trump's industrial councils. Musk is one of many successful immigrants in the United States. He was born in South Africa.

France's new president Emmanuel Macron, in a youtube film, has invited United States researchers, entrepreneurs and engineers to come to France to continue their work when Trump cut budgets and lower ambitions. Macron says that France will invest more money for technology development that will meet the challenge of preventing rapid climate change.

Trump, instead, fears that Latin American immigrants via Mexico will continue coming to the United States. His well-known solution is to build a wall to shut out immigrants and refugees.

President Trump hopes that his decision to leave international cooperation to avoid unmanageably rapid climate change will make the United States "great again". It's hard to believe he is going to succeed. Many skilled, well-educated people in the US may instead choose to leave the country.

In February of this year, China Daily was pleased to announce that the Nobel laureate in physics Chen Ning Yang and the recipient of the Turing Prize, Stanford Professor Andrew Yao Qizhi, had abandoned their American citizenships and become Chinese citizens.

This is written in Berlin. Here one can study the remains of another wall built to prevent people from moving where they wanted to. On August 13, 1961 at 1 o'clock in the night, barbed wire and thousands of masons began to close the possibility for people to move between East Germany and West Berlin. The reason was that almost three million, often educated people, moved from East Germany to West Germany via West Berlin.

President Donald Trump's decision that the United States will ignore international climate cooperation will not stop the development of renewable energy. The rest of the world will continue to develop. But his policy is likely to slow down industrial development in the United States.

Perhaps his migration policy will soon be about preventing trained people from moving to Europe or China instead of building a wall to prevent immigration.

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