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U.S. Swimming Against the Tide on Climate Change?

by Countable | 4.3.17

Following President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order reversing U.S. direction on environmental policy on Tuesday, questions are being raised about the future of U.S. participation in global efforts to combat climate change.

Administration officials have indicated that the president will announce his willingness to continue as a partner in the Paris Climate Agreement by the end of May. Business executives from over a dozen major corporations who sit on advisory councils for the administration have come out publicly to state that they believe in climate change and urge the U.S. to remain committed to the Paris Agreement.

After the signing of Tuesday’s executive order, four major technology companies — Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft — issued this statement:

"Strong clean energy and climate policies, like the Clean Power Plan, can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change."

Other companies, like PepsiCo, General Electric, Intel and Walmart, have indicated that the administration’s policy direction will not affect their trajectory. They have already invested in technology and infrastructure development to participate in combating climate change. And as strong consumer brands they must be responsive to the environmental concerns of their customers and shareholders in order to protect their market share.

"Combating climate change is critical to the future of our company, customers, consumers and our world", stated Jay Cooney, a spokesman for PepsiCo. Katie Lewallen, a spokeswoman for Intel, also offered:

"Regardless of regulatory changes, we intend to continue our commitment to environmental stewardship, including working to fulfill the climate change pledge we made in 2015."

At the same time, government scientists that specialize in renewable energy research are concerned the administration’s budget proposals will make the U.S. unable to compete in the growing global renewable energy market. For the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year the administration has proposed a 25 percent cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). For fiscal year 2018 the proposed cuts are in the realm of 45 percent.

The 2018 proposed budget blueprint states:

"The Budget for DOE [Department of Energy] demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to reasserting the proper role of what has become a sprawling Federal Government and reducing deficit spending. It reflects an increased reliance on the private sector to fund later-stage research, development and commercialization of energy technologies and focuses resources on early-stage research and development."

Most affected by the EERE cuts would be the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, CO. Their work has contributed to a massive decrease in the cost of renewable energy systems and a related upward increase in the renewable energy economy for over 25 years; impacts due to increased investment by the Obama administration were particularly strong. From 2010 to 2016 NREL research contributed to a 74 percent cost decline for utility-scale solar, according to the Energy Department.

Their programs help to develop new technology and shepherd it through the long process to commercialization. According to energy policy experts like Venkatesh Narayanamurti, a Harvard Kennedy School professor, this research and development is often too risky for private sector companies.

Meanwhile, China continues to invest billions in renewable energy, emerging as the global leader in technology advancement and system installation. In 2016 they invested $19.2 billion more than the U.S., and are aggressively moving into the growing markets for renewable energy in developing countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Southeast Asia as well as India.

Many countries, led by China and the E.U., have publicly reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement following Trump’s signing of the executive order on Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will actively participate in the global push to combat climate change, or try to swim back against the tide.

Should the administration continue to commit to the Paris Agreement and other efforts to combat climate change? Tell them what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(96)
  • Aaron
    04/04/2017
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    You wouldn't start a fire in your basement and then deny it exists because you don't see it from your backyard. Denying climate change is doing exactly that. We need to protect our planet. Period.

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  • Joann
    04/04/2017
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    Climate change is real, and the USA should be leading the way to a better future for humans! Dismantling the EPA is the wrong move

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  • Sabaah
    04/04/2017
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    Instead of investing in coal or oil, we should push renewable energy. This would create jobs, help with climate change, and be good for business.

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  • Robert
    04/04/2017
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    Gentlemen you are all to smart and well educated to deny the human contributions to climate change. Please embrace what science can tell us. Our grandchildren deserve a beautiful planet to inhabit.

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  • GKMC01
    04/04/2017
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    I love how people try to deflect climate change in so many different steps to deny that it's happening. It is happening. It isn't natural. Animals are dying. Things are happening that shouldn't be. Simple as that. We are going the opposite direction to save jobs of an industry that will eventually die out. Capital gains and a bull market aren't worth the price that we will pay as a society in the decades to come.

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  • Kathryn
    04/04/2017
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    Support clean energy and clean energy jobs!

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  • C
    04/03/2017
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    Climate change is real and alternative energy creates more and higher paying jobs than carbon energy. Invest in education and clean energy for the future of our children and grandchildren.

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  • Vivian
    04/04/2017
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    It is shameful that the United States has decided to target scientists, especially those working to chronicle the effects of climate change, for silencing and disparagement. This is beyond burying our head in the sand. The active agenda of cutting funds for scientific research, coupled with the executive actions silencing workers in the National Park Service, and legislative agenda intent on rolling back environmental protections that have given Americans access to clean air and water will have negative impacts for years to come. This is not a legacy to be proud of--it is one of short-sighted profiteering at the expense of our national security. The U S has given up its leadership role as a steward of global resources and, for what? What is our profit on it?

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  • bstreettraveler
    04/04/2017
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    Stop this man's dismantling of EPA

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  • Pam
    04/04/2017
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    It is unconscionable that the US, one of the biggest producers of carbon is pulling out of agreements with other nations. It is unbelievable that an oilman is leading the EPA. Where are the scientists? Why is Trump making promises to bring coal back? It is expensive and polluting. The USA should be a leader for environmental protection.

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  • Kay
    04/05/2017
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    Climate change is real. It is science. Failure to acknowledge it and address it jeopardizes our planet's future. And our children's' future. Stop being an embarrassment to all that is intelligent. Fight for the EPA and battle climate change.

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  • Scott
    04/05/2017
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    Climate change is real and it is primarily caused by humans. The US should be leading the world with renewable energy, but we are lagging behind. We should be actively reducing our reliance on fossil fuels while in parallel forcing those industries and their employees to move towards renewable energy training + infrastructure. It blows my mind that there isn't a date set in the near future where ALL auto companies must convert their new vehicles to fully electric. It also blows my mind that solar panels aren't mandatory for new housing and commercial building projects.

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  • Greta
    04/04/2017
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    Please demand a progressive movement toward reversing climate change. We can't continue to deny what is inevitable.

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  • Janice
    04/04/2017
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    On a minor level, it's just plain embarrassing compared to what other developed countries are doing. On a much more important level, this is disastrous to the whole planet. I can barely find the words to express my absolute rage, dismay, sorrow.The Paris Accord probably didn't go far enough. Go ahead. Make America Dead. Can y'all just stop the complete lack of regard for anything other than your own greed? Just give a tiny damn about this amazing plant that our Creator shared with us and entrusted to us.

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  • ShallahGaykwon
    04/04/2017
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    The U.S. ought to become a global leader in combatting climate change.

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  • Karen
    04/04/2017
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    Support clean energy! Support clean energy jobs! Science is real!!

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  • Robert
    04/04/2017
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    Please vote to support the Paris agreement.

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  • Lesia
    04/03/2017
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    You deny climate change because that's not where the big money is. It disgusting that we the people have to fight our own government to preserve our beautiful land. Fossil fuels aren't going to last forever so go ahead and ditch the horse and buggy and get on the train. It's leaving without you.

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  • Diane
    04/04/2017
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    It would behoove the Trump administration to listen to the scientist from NASA on climate change.

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  • Kim
    04/03/2017
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    We should the leaders in renewable energy!!!

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