As countries meet in Poland from all over the world this week to discuss measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, US delegates showed up ready to discuss the role of coal and fossil fuels in the world’s energy mix, including the rising star of the energy world—natural gas.
As one might imagine, such talk was met with staunch criticism from the forum’s nearly 200 attendees.
“It is important to the overall climate discussion that we consider what’s realistic and pragmatic,” Wells Griffith, special assistant to the president for international energy and environment, said at the forum, as cited by Time, adding that “energy innovation and fossil fuels will continue to play a leading role.”
When former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that the US still had a major role to play as a global leader of climate change issues, we doubt that’s what he had in mind. On the sidelines of the event, Schwarzenegger yesterday referred to President Trump as “meshugge” which roughly translated means “crazy”.
Crazy or no, the Trump Administration’s message is clear: coal is still necessary, as it accounts for a significant portion of the energy mix, and natural gas is now a clear front runner as its replacement. The two combined account for about 62% of the United States’ electricity generation, according to the EIA.
And despite various subsidies for wind and solar, together they account for just 7.6% of all electricity generation. While coal’s influence is assuredly waning, it is being displaced at a healthy clip by natural gas—another fossil fuel, and not a renewable source, much to the chagrin of environmentalists who are eager to abandon fossil fuels, and fast.
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While coal use has indeed declined in the last few years—some would say courtesy of President Barak Obama’s war on coal, others would say due to the rise of cheap natural gas amid the shale boom—the Trump administration is still working on easing emissions regulations for coal plants, in line with President Trump’s campaign promise to revive the coal industry, which has indeed resulted in a modest increase in coal-industry jobs in the last couple of years.
US delegates did push for increased transparency from other countries, so everyone was held to the same standard when evaluating any progress related to climate change.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.