As everyone now knows, the US President has withdrawn the USA from the Paris Climate Accord. Although he claims to be saving US jobs, the strong likelihood is that it will lose US jobs as the renewal energy industry at the moment is the fastest growing industry in the USA. With President Trump’s decision, Germany is expected to take the lead in wind energy and China in solar.
Australia is now making key decisions for its own energy future. Will we permit the Government to continue to back the old technology, coal, or force it to support the new renewables? The next big gains are to be made with renewal energy battery storage and the encouragement and the development opportunities we provide now could be decisive. Companies now developing in this area in Australia could have a real chance at world leadership. Or they could miss out to more innovative governments (e.g. California which is taking an opposite stance to the federal decision, and being very active about it.) Infrastructure decisions have recently been discussed in terms of immediate construction jobs. but they have a longer term importance that goes far beyond mere, and relatively temporary, construction jobs. The techniques we develop now could have major export capabilities to the entire world.
The USA withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord suits those who gain from oil and fossil fuel exploitation more generally – oil producers in Russia and Saudi Arabia – and coal producers in the USA and Australia. An interesting question for Australia is who has the political strength in this country – the coal lobby or those promoting renewable energy? This is not an idle question. For a long time, Australia has been content to follow America’s lead. Will it this time?
Emanuel Macron, newly elected President of France, recently addressed the USA and the world – in fluent English! – arguing that France, and Europe, will continue the fight to control carbon emissions – ‘to make this planet great again’
The current agenda for the USA is “what is good for the USA”. This is not so different from every Nation’s goals. The difficulty is in the interpretation of “good”, and the time that this “good” is actually good. Many decisions coming from western governments meet general-public and short-term definitions of good, while simultaneously being disastrous for the long-term good. This is firmly tied to election cycles and public education. No sane person votes for the destruction of the planet by policy, nor for conflict with other nations. People lack education and critical thinking in many areas and this is the problem with western energy policy, it is determined in significant part by belief, not fact.