Thursday, September 6, 2018

Trump's Energy Agenda is as Insane as his Presidency

Given what we now know about Trump it should come as no surprise that his energy policy is wildly irrational. The self proclaimed deal maker has walked the US away from the greatest economic opportunity in human history. According to a new report sustainable infrastructure including energy represents a $26 trillion opportunity.  The report's authors refer to this as the new climate economy.  If climate action and the green economy are on the Trump administration's radar it is only so that they can be targeted for cuts or removal.

Trump appears determined to end climate action in America. At a time when there is so much opportunity the president appears to be moving in the wrong direction.  While the leader of the free world is dragging the US backwards, forward looking governments are supporting sustainability focused innovation.

In the energy efficiency space new technologies like smart systems are allowing building owners and managers to access data in real time. Technologies like this help to identify cost saving opportunities. While this administration pays lip service to strengthening the economy they are actually hobbling the nation's economic future. No matter how you look at it this administration's energy policy is as  crazy as the commander and chief. The failure to embrace the coming reality along with on reliance on energy sources with no future will have serious consequences for America's global competitiveness.

Rather than support energy efficiency this administration's policy is defined by inefficiency which entails opposition to decreasing power consumption, and reducing air pollution including climate change causing GHGs.

This government's energy policy is utterly irrational. The importance of  government support for energy efficiency is obvious. A US Department of Energy report* on government bluntly stated, "leadership on energy efficiency is necessary."

Trump's resistance to energy efficiency appears to be disconnected from reality, but so is the man himself. He has proven himself to be the most dishonest and incompetent president in the history of the republic and this is reflected in the administration's energy agenda.  There were questions about his competence and his sanity before he became president.  Subsequently the chorus of mental health professionals questioning his fitness to lead has intensified.

Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will go down in infamy for systematically dismantling regulations that protect the health of Americans. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his support for fossil fuels over clean power. He and his administration has actively undermined renewables to help the fossil fuel industry. In the face of declining solar prices this administration even levied tariffs to hurt the clean energy sector.

The ruling US government is dead-set against forward looking energy policy, however, this does not change the fact that government incentives are essential to scale the new climate economy.
Optimists say clean energy can succeed without government support. However, their optimism does not appear to be warranted. National energy policy has a significant effect on energy usage across all four sectors (buildings, transportation, industrial, and power).  The absence of such a policy, or worse still a disadvantageous policy, seriously impedes the growth of clean energy and the green economy.

We should not expect anything positive from the Trump administration, his remaining days in office will be an escalating firestorm.  At best this will keep him from focusing on further attacks on environmental protections and climate action. At worst it will serve as a smokescreen for some members of his cabinet to continue dismantling government.

Outside of this administration we are seeing positive signs including corporate action. We are seeing ongoing interest in energy efficiency from power utilities, technical experts, and consumer advocates.  However, it is going to take leadership to get everyone onboard and this is precisely what we will never see from this administration.

The current US government's stalwart opposition to science based policy exposes the naivete of the hopeful.  There is a powerful logic to investing in the new climate economy but we will not be able to scale it to the required size in the absence of government support.  The stark reality is that we need government support.

We should be under no illusions that the cabal running Washington will not relent.  Yet we need to radically change the federal government's energy policy if we are to reduce emissions and stabilize temperatures.

They may not succeed in killing the new climate economy, but they have significantly slowed its growth in the US.

What we need to do is open the floodgates of the green economy and this will not happen until we see a change in political leadership.

* The 2009 report titled "Energy Efficiency Policy in the United States: Overview of Trends at Different Levels of Government", was written by Elizabeth Doris, Jaquelin Cochran, and Martin Vorum on behalf of the NREL, a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The Trump Administration's Policy of Energy Inefficiency
The Energy Efficiency Opportunity and the Case for Government Support
Business Needs Government to Incentivize Efficiency and the Green Economy
Ten Schools Leveraging Energy Efficiency to Save Money
IKEA is a Corporate Leader in Renewables and Efficiency
The Case for Green Building
Economic Benefits of Renewable Energy and Efficiency (IEA)

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