2016 Election

Opinion: US election – Confirmation received that Donald Trump would roll back progress on climate change and take us back to the Dark Ages – video

Photo credit: youtube.com
By Anders Lorenzen

In a press conference in May, Donald Trump confirmed that, firstly, he does not believe in climate change and, secondly, that he does not understand the market forces that are rapidly driving investors away from fossil fuels.

These things were made clear in the press conference,as Trump underlined where he stood on energy policy and climate change. The press conference was held for oil and gas executives in North Dakota, home to some of the largest oil and gas shale deposits in the US. The underlying sentiment of Trump’s energy speech was, that President Obama had unleashed a war on the fossil fuel industry with red tape and regulations. Thus, Obama was killing the coal industry, by closing down coal mines and putting thousands of workers out of jobs. According to Trump, this was a line that was bound to be continued under Clinton.

However, the presidential hopeful neglected to mention that during Obama’s term in office he has approved and opened up many more new oil and gas drilling licences than any other previous US president. Therefore, the main cause why coal power plants and mines are shutting down is global demand and certainly not due to Obama’s policies. Obama’s coal power plants regulations are so new that it will be a while yet before we see their impact. But the main reasons are a slowdown in coal demand globally, and a surge of uptake of renewables. New figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveal that 90% of all newly installed energy capacity is now coming from renewables.

While Trump passionately moved to defend coal, he aggressively attacked another energy technology, namely wind power, saying that it kills over a million birds a year. As he was addressing the oil and gas conference in North Dakota, he drew comparisons with bird deaths in the fossil fuel industry which he said are a lot lower. But again he neglected to talk about why the Obama Administration had taken action against the working conditions in the North Dakota Bakken Shale formations gas and oil extraction sites. They have an unusually high injury and death rate from workers. By the way,  Al Jazeera did a brilliant investigative report on this.

But let us look at his claims anyway. According to stats and analysis from the Carbon Brief, wind turbines are estimated to kill between 100,000 to 400,000 birds in the US annually. Trump might still think that this is high. But compared to 60 – 80 million for cars, 67 – 90 million for agricultural pesticides, 175 million for power lines, or the 365 million to 1 billion from cats, those stats pale significantly.

Of course, Donald Trump does not believe in climate change either, which he frequently calls a hoax. He lambasted Obama for signing the US up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. He claims that foreign bureaucrats now would have control over what we can and can’t do with our energy in the US. And yes, you guessed right, if Donald J. Trump becomes the next president of the US he will cancel the Paris Agreement on climate change, and also stop all funds going to UN climate programs. He talked about new-found riches that the American people deserved to have. He called Obama’s policies “anti-energy laws”; claiming that they had weakened US security as they relied on importing foreign energy. Trump then pledged that he would make America energy- independent.

With the risk of repeating myself, it is important to clarify a few things. It is evident that Trump really knows nothing about how the energy market works. It would not matter how much energy America produces ; they will still sell and import energy and that is how financial and capital markets work. Ask any banker, economist or investor. To change this, Trump will have to completely oversee an overhaul of the American financial system and move the US out of capitalism. The MIT Technology Review went as far as to claim that Trump knows nothing about energy or about climate change.

And President Obama is not anti -energy, as under his administration solar and wind power production have accelerated, at the same time creating thousands of new jobs. In fact, Obama is very pro- energy, but he is also keen that we need to have the right balance and we should invest in the energy of tomorrow and not in yesterday’s technologies.

While Trump is catching up with Clinton in the polls of late, it is still extremely unlikely he will get even close to winning the election. But if he does win, we should all be scared, very scared.

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