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Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe: America, The ‘Clean Energy Superpower’

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Hillary Clinton had vastly different plans for America’s transition to a low carbon economy than Donald Trump. Here’s what our coverage may have looked like if she had won.

The world is moving ahead with the Paris Agreement on climate change, so much is clear since the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh. But the role of the United States is uncertain since the election of Donald Trump as the country’s next president.

In the face of that uncertainty, let’s imagine an alternate reality where we would have published this article on the day after the election.


A PARALLEL UNIVERSE, 9 NOVEMBER 2016

Victory For Clinton, USA to Embark on Mission ‘Clean Energy Superpower’

Hillary Clinton, President-Elect of the United States of America. Photo: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock
Hillary Clinton, President-Elect of the United States of America. Photo: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock

The entire COP22 climate change conference in Marrakesh can breathe a collective sigh of relief this morning. The American people have spoken, Hillary Clinton will be the next US president.

On climate change, the difference could not have been starker. While Donald Trump claimed it was a hoax “invented by the Chinese,” Clinton has put forward proposals to make America the “clean energy superpower of the 21st century and create millions of jobs.”

On Monday, a veteran European Union climate negotiator explained to Pacific Standard what was on the line: “They will vote on whether to elect a man who says he wants to take a hammer, a lead pipe, and a chain saw to” the Paris Agreement on climate change, “So, yes, we may be a little nervous.”

Implementing The Paris Agreement

But with Clinton taking over from her Democratic colleagues in the current US administration, Europe will have some healthy competition in the global low-carbon economy.

US energy secretary Ernest Moniz recently said America already has the “workers, the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the engineers, and the desire” to be the global research and development leader for “clean energy technology, research, development, and deployment.”

On her campaign website, Clinton promises she will “deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference,” – regardless of the situation in Congress – and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 per cent in 2025 relative to 2005 levels, and put the US on a path to cut emissions more than 80 per cent by 2050.

Renewable Power For Every Home

When president Hillary Clinton moves into the White House in January 2017, she says she will set “bold goals” that must be achieved within 10 years, including enough renewable energy to power “every home in America,” increasing energy efficiency, making American factories “the cleanest and most efficient in the world,” and reducing US oil consumption by a third.

US energy secretary Ernest Moniz recently said America has the “workers, the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the engineers, and the desire” to be the global research and development leader for “clean energy technology, research, development, and deployment.”

A recent report by the US energy department says president Obama’s investment in research and development of clean energy technologies has already contributed to major price reductions ranging from 40 per cent for wind power to as high as 94 per cent for LED light bulbs since president Obama assumed office in 2008.

Doubling Down on Innovation

Moniz says the US is going to “double down” on innovation to dominate the low carbon market. America is going to be very well positioned, he says, “for what will be a global clean energy market that is going to be measured in the trillions of Dollars,” he stressed.

Clinton has announced she wants to increase public investment in areas such as innovation, clean energy research and development, infrastructure, manufacturing and education to make the US more competitive in the post-Paris Agreement economy.

One of the policies Clinton has campaigned on is a $60 billion “Clean Energy Challenge” that should see the White House partner with states, cities, and rural communities “to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy.”

On her campaign website, Clinton also says also says she will “cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy” and reduce “methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.”

Global Competition

In Europe, national governments are working together to compete with the United States and other global powers. The European Union’s multi-billion Horizon 2020 programme supports initiatives such as Climate-KIC, a public-private climate innovation partnership active across Europe, to boost innovation and increase the continent’s competitiveness.

Earlier this year, the EU and US released a joint statement to call for more joint investments by both the public and private sector, saying that “urgent and effective action is needed to address the threat of climate change.”

Just last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience in Brussels, Belgium, that “the amount of jobs, the extraordinary new enterprises” that can be created because of the transition to a low-carbon economy “is staring us in the face.”

Kerry highlighted how the United States and the EU are among the leading advocates of “the most inclusive and ambitious global climate change agreement ever negotiated,” an accord that will further accelerate a “multi-trillion dollar market” as his colleague Ernest Moniz put it.

Europe needs you! Want to compete with American businesses in the zero carbon economy? Find out how Climate-KIC can help you launch a business, or help you get the qualifications to get you started.

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