Unleashing the river of change
The exit of Trump removes the greatest impediment to the energy transition, and will unleash a great era of creativity and opportunity as the world figures out how to get the energy we want without the carbon we don’t.
The world has changed a lot since 2016, and the forces of economics and politics are now driving a global energy transition. The price of solar electricity has fallen by a third and the price of Li-ion batteries by half. Renewables have become the cheapest source of new electricity in every major country in the world, and even in 2019 non-fossil sources provided all the growth in electricity supply. Meanwhile, the leading nations of the world have made their own pledges to reach net zero by the middle of the century. The EU in 2019, China in September 2020, Japan and Korea in October 2020. COVID has hastened change by bringing forward the peak of fossil fuel demand to 2019, weakening the incumbency and opening up the window of opportunity for reform.
Note: This map focuses on large economies with recent announcements, for a full list of countries/ regions with Net Zero targets both in law or under development, see: https://eciu.net/netzerotracker
And yet the Trump Administration sought to hold back the river of change. They provided subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, they rolled back laws to protect the American people from filthy air, they frustrated the growth of renewables at every turn. And they gave protection and support to the forces of the fossil fuel system resisting change across the world. In some countries, the waters stagnated behind the dam.
Remove the blockage, and the river can now run its course. Unleashed is the enormous reserve of talent, capital and ideas of the United States. Every major power in the world is now making concrete plans to transition its energy system to renewables within 30 years, and the race has begun to dominate the energy industries of the next century. What once seemed impossible is now the great soluble challenge of our era. Expect a great upswelling of invention as new solutions are found in every industry from trucking to plastics, steel to airlines.
Originally published at https://carbontracker.org on November 10, 2020.