Why does Donald Trump scorn renewable energy when it’s so good for business?

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Posted Mar 23 2017 by Steve Last of IPPTS Associates
Why does Donald Trump scorn renewable energy so much?

US President Donald Trump seems to be locked into a crusade to deny that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the cause of climate change. While it is always possible that 97% of the scientific community have got it completely wrong, it would seem unlikely that they have. However, even if Donald and his climate change deniers are right, why make such a big issue about it? The environment is big business so why risk damaging US environmental businesses.

It is undeniable that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen and much of the CO2 in the air also dissolves in the world’s oceans. The consequence of that is that the oceans are becoming more acidic. This acidity tends to dissolve the calcium of all the higher species of life that live in the oceans. This in turn tends to weaken the bone structures of sea creatures, and puts at risk the entire ecology of the world’s oceans.

So, given that the oceans provide a large proportion of global food supply from fishing, it remains a very high priority to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, even if Donald trump is right, and CO2 is not a major cause of climate change.

To be a rebel makes no sense, unless Trump sees himself as acting on behalf of the big US oil companies to keep demand for oil high, so that they can make profits until the oil runs out.

If for a moment, we were to accept the idea that the rise in CO2 levels is not due to human influences, decarbonising the globe to reduce the contributory impact we are adding, still makes sense.

On the other hand, even adopting an anti-“climate change action” policy to support the US Oil Company Cartel makes no sense. That is because the clear majority of large oil companies have themselves already accepted that human influenced climate change is real. More to the point, whatever their views are, they have bowed to pressure from the big institutional investors (pension funds and the like) to diversify their businesses into renewable energy.

Those oil companies now working in the renewable energy market have found that they like their new diversified business models which include renewable energy. The reason for that is easy to understand.

The oil business requires working in many politically unstable parts of the world, with all the business and currency fluctuation risk that entails, and dealing in a commodity whose value is heavily influenced by short-term political and economic factors.

In contrast, renewable energy businesses are far less subject to the large price fluctuations seen in oil prices over the last 5 years. In addition, their business can usually be done in their home nation. Investment opportunities are plentiful in the wonderful new technologies now emerging for renewable energy. They should be able to spot the best money-making renewable energy innovations, get in early, and become leaders in those technologies, allowing them to make abundant profits.

The result has been that for the last 5 or more years, at renewable energy conferences around the world it has invariably been possible to discover a contingent of delegates and speakers from “old oil”, who are enthusiastic converts to renewable energy investment. In fact, if you engage these people in conversation they will tell you that they no longer see oil as a sustainable business model at the highest level. That is simply because the big investors such as pension funds, want to put their money elsewhere in businesses which they consider have much better long-term prospects. These are, looking ahead, only the truly sustainable businesses, like those that are actively seeking out renewable energy technologies.

What oil company businessmen do ask for is that all governments work out sensible renewable energy policies, and where they provide subsidies that they also provide the certainty of stability. This means not creating subsidies, only to remove them. Most importantly it means not breaking promises where renewable energy subsidies have been offered at certain rates for the life of a project, but later threaten removal.

President Trump should wake up to the huge distraction which his concentration on the role of carbon dioxide, is. Or, is his plan just that? Distract us from his real intentions?

He should take advice from what it must be presumed are his own friends within the US Oil Cartel, who will confirm that the environment is big business, wherein some of the biggest growth potential lies.

He should apply his energy to doing what is best for US businesses, and employment, through supporting global efforts to decarbonise. That is where a huge potential for good business can be generated. Good sustainable business, which leaves resources for future generations. Business with much higher levels of job creation, within the US, when compared with pumping yet more oil out of the ground.