Take heart, all ye who’re livid Trump took America out of the #Paris #climate deal

Take heart, all ye who are livid about Donald Trump taking America out of the Paris climate change agreement. Even so powerful a man as the US president can’t stop the march of the windmills.

Consider this.

Attendees of mid-June’s annual convention in Boston of the Edison Electric Institute, a utilities trade group, really believe that the shift toward renewables and away from coal is irreversible.

How do we know that? Justin Fox of Bloomberg View, who attended the shindig, told us in an excellent analysis about the coming end of coal. Mr Fox quotes two people who should know something about the state of the energy market.

Jan Vrins, head of the global energy practice at the consulting firm Navigant.

And Gerry Anderson, chief executive officer of Detroit-based utility DTE Energy Co.

Mr Vrins told him: “We’re over the tipping point now”.

And Mr Anderson said: “I think the train has left the station. The administration can’t turn a 70-year-old coal plant into a 20-year-old coal plant.”

Which is to say that coal plants in the US are, for the first time since the advent of electrical utilities in the country, being retired and not replaced. This, because Obama-era regulation made it environmentally unviable to keep coal plants going. Mr Fox cites the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s finding that utilities attributed three-fifths of the coal retirements since 2010 to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations (ie President Obama’s tough rules). For some years now, as Mr Anderson pointed out, utilities have been investing “in more modern generation facilities… natural gas and renewables.”

Meanwhile, there’s been a decided drop in per-capita electricity use in the US and this is the result of new technologies such as LED lightbulbs as well as more efficient systems.

This is not to say that the Trump administration’s hostility towards clean, green energy doesn’t matter. Regulation does matter, as we can see from the results of President Obama’s policies. But there may have been a mindset and habit change away from coal that Mr Trump cannot roll back.


Originally published at www.rashmee.com on June 23, 2017.