The Green New Deal: Energy Transition vs Energy Dominance?

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For the 2020 US Presidential Elections, most democratic candidates have supported the “Green New Deal”, described by the Green Party as a plan to “​convert the old, gray economy into a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible​”. This includes achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2030. It has put climate change issues in the spotlight, forcing politicians to address them as circumstantial matters. However, many current politicians, especially Republicans, aren’t convinced. According to CNN Politics, President Trump and Mitch McConnell used the deal to paint the democratic political program as a ​“socialist utopia​”. During the Energy Week (09/2017), the Trump administration expressed their will to increase exports of oil to make the US an energy “superpower”. Admitting this, can US energy dominance exist by maintaining the existing mechanisms of the shale revolution, considering the realities of climate change

Energy Dominance VS Energy Transition

Firstly, we can argue that energy security encompasses dominating in renewable energy, soon to be the fastest growing energy form. Yet, the White House’s proposed 2020 budget slashes funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 70%, while China plans to invest $340 billion in renewable energy by 2020, currently dominating in solar panel and wind turbine industries.

Dominance also means developing technologies such as storage, solar paint, and grid-scale energy. The administration’s budget proposes to eliminate the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy while, again, Beijing plans to double its yearly spendings in energy R&D by 2021.

Thirdly, dominating means also leading in the global community. Previously, playing a leading role in global climate negotiations has strengthened the US diplomatically and economically. Today, the US has troubled diplomatic relationships and undermined its credibility by leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. In addition, commercial issues such as intellectual property and trade will be decided without voicing U.S. interests.

Finally, energy dominance would include reducing vulnerability to global market swings, and boosting US oil production doesn’t reduce prices when global prices spike. Consumer protection would rather emerge from reducing the consumption of oil and diversifying energy sources due to the interrelated nature of the energy market.

So What?

Thus, we can say the Green New Deal is a path to combine energy dominance with the energy transition. Abandoned, China has made clear that it intends to fill the void, enhancing its own soft power. Energy security for the US will be measured in the capacity to respond to further climate change, including hurricanes and floods which have already seriously impacted agriculture and infrastructure. According to the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, the transition from fossil fuels “​could transform global power relations no less than the historical shifts from wood to coal and from coal to oil”​. Energy dominance will be measured by the capacity to lead in an energy transition rather than reinforcing existing market mechanisms.

Zelie Marcais

Sources:

Green New Deal,​ The Green Party ​https://www.gp.org/green_new_deal

Here’s what the Green New Deal actually says​, ​Zachary B. Wolf, February 14, 2019 ​CNN Politics https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/green-new-deal-proposal-breakdown/in dex.html

How the Green New Deal Is Forcing Politicians to Finally Address Climate Change​, J​ustin Worland (03/21/2019) ​Time Magazine http://time.com/5555721/green-new-deal-climate-change/

The week in energy: A Green New Deal,​ ​Ed Crooks​(01/12/2019) Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/56ab8cbc-15be-11e9-a581-4ff78404524e

The American Energy Superpower; Why Dominance Is About More Than Just Production, Jason Bordoff (06/07​/2017) ​Foreign Affairs https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-07-06/american-energy -superpower

 

Cover Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

 

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