On June 1, President Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the UN Paris Climate Accord. Though not surprising, the announcement marks the latest, and certainly one of the highest profile, energy and environmental policy actions Trump has initiated since being sworn in as US president in January. It ranks right up alongside his directive to new EPA administrator and longstanding climate change “denier” Scott Pruitt to review (the ultimate goal being revoking) the Clean Power Plan the EPA proposed in 2015 during President Barack Obama’s second, and final, four-year term as US president.
As reported by CNBC, Trump said that “relying on renewable energy sources…would leave the country with too little power to accelerate economic growth – or even go about business as usual.” Experts strongly disagreed, citing the growing accumulation of evidence to the contrary being amassed by the US Dept. of Energy, along with power and energy industry players and private and public sector research agencies and organizations nationwide and internationally.
That same day, the governors of California, New York and Washington – Edmund G. (“Jerry”) Brown, Andrew M. Cuomo and Jay R. Inslee, respectively, launched the US Climate Initiative, “a coalition that will convene US states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.” Four days later, nine states – Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia – and the US territory of Puerto Rico joined the coalition.
An Emerging Nationwide, State-Level US Climate-Renewable Energy Coalition
Government leaders in a variety of key US states have been instrumental in spurring a society-wide transition from conventional, centralized fossil fuel-based power and energy to distributed, emissions-free solar and renewable energy resources in the US. They are keenly aware of the advantages and benefits fast growing development and deployment of solar, wind, other renewable energy, smart grid, energy storage and clean tech assets are yielding – advantages and benefits that fly directly in the face of Pres. Trump’s assertions to the contrary.
More than 100,000 Americans are now employed across the US wind power industry and market value chain, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), many in manufacturing, a sector of the US economy that Trump is a self-proclaimed champion of.
Nearly 260,000 are working in the US solar energy sector, according to the latest stats from The Solar Foundation and US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Yet more notably, employment in these and other relatively small but fast growing industries has been growing at rates far above those for the economy as a whole for around a decade running.
Fueling Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Development in the US and Worldwide
Furthermore, leading US renewable energy and clean tech companies are key agents fueling equitable, sustainable energy and socioeconomic development and growth internationally, as well as across the US. That extends beyond producing, distributing and making use of electrical power and energy in stationary venues – in houses, residential and commercial buildings, industrial facilities, government and public services facilities, and across the military, but for transportation as well. Having acquired SolarCity, Tesla perhaps serves as the highest profile example.
Pro-solar and renewable energy government leaders also have first-hand knowledge of the advantages and benefits, and years of experience navigating and working through the dense tangle of conflicting interests and tensions that come with putting ambitious, precedent-setting solar, renewable energy and clean tech policy and institutional platforms, frameworks and incentive programs in place and seeing them through to implementation.
NY Doubles Down, Governor Announces Fresh $1.5 Billion for Renewable Energy
Following through on US Climate Alliance ambitions, NY Governor Cuomo took to the public stage June 2 to announce new, associated climate change-renewable energy initiatives and investments. Featuring prominently among them, Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order that doubles down on the state’s commitment to address socioeconomic and environmental threats posed by climate change.
Prominent among these, the governor announced $1.5 billion for renewable energy projects, including wind, solar arrays, hydro and fuel cells, to advance a state goal of achieving 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030. Gov. Cuomo, a Democrat, said the investment would create 40,000 clean energy jobs by 2020.
Flooded by media requests for interviews and additional information, a spokesperson for the NY State Governor’s office pointed out that the US Climate Alliance is at the earliest stage of its evolution. The exact make-up of the state-level climate change-renewable energy coalition, its official strategic plan, as well specific details regarding its supporting institutional framework, mechanisms and resources were being worked out among the US Climate Alliance’s growing roster of members, she added. She also said that all media requests for information were being reviewed, and responses regarding all facets of the historic state-level coalition would be provided as soon as prudently possible. comment