As renewable energy prices are falling lower and lower, President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to end all federal spending on clean energy research and development. In the frenzy of the 2016 Presidential Campaign, the issue of climate change and energy sources got pushed under the rug.
Renewable energy is generated from natural sources, such as sunlight, wind and rain, which are considered renewable due to the fact that they are naturally replenished. Non-renewable energy industries, such as oil and coal have experienced dramatic downsizing in the past two years, resulting in the renewable energy market thriving. The renewable market broke ground in 2015, and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels, with clean energy investment now outpacing gas and coal two to one.
Despite the fact that renewable energy is becoming cheaper and cheaper to produce, President-elect Trump is known to support tapping into “oil reserves, and natural gas on federal lands”, running on an energy campaign powered by “beautiful, clean coal.”
Eliminating many of President Obama’s key climate change efforts is a promise Trump made to voters in his Contract With the American Voter, vowing to lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars worth of job-producing American energy reserves.
However, despite Trump’s negative rhetoric on renewable energy (denying climate change, dismissing wind and solar power as uneconomic, and vowing to ramp up coal and oil production) many industry insiders say they aren’t too worried. This is because of the boom in the renewable energy industry.
Many renewable energy supporters are still hopeful, claiming that a Trump presidency will not stop the likely transition from fossil fuels to clean energy- that it will only slow the inevitable transition down.
According to Dr. Joe Romm, the founding editor of Climate Progress, the clean energy revolution is “unstoppable because of the underlying global market, policy, and technological trends.” Romm claims that even as president, Trump could not reverse these trends on his own.
Others share Romm’s opinion. “I don’t want to dismiss the impact of Trump’s victory, it will slow down action [on] climate change,” said Jason Bordoff, professor of professional practice in international and public affairs at Columbia University, “But I would say that for many of the things he’s promised, we will only see an impact on the margin—it’ll pale in comparison to Trump’s rhetoric.”
Many are hopeful that the President-elect may not be as hostile to renewable energy as he seems. “Mr. Trump, a lot of times, he will say stuff, and once he does research he will kind of backtrack, and I fully believe that’s what’s happened with solar” said Debbie Dooley, an interesting hybrid of aTrump supporter and Tea Party solar energy advocate. She was also president of the Green Tea Coalition and Conservatives for Energy Freedom.
Americans and renewable energy supporters will just have to wait and see, and hope the renewable industry maintains its footing.
(Analysis and Commentary by Simmons Andrews)