Although the announcement of the U.S exit from the Paris Agreement is a juddering blow to the planet, it is not, we believe, a nail in the coffin for climate change activity.
Taylor Hopkinson has been in renewables for over a decade and we see it as a point of testament that the passion and innovation of the renewables sector have managed to drive down the prices of construction and implementation to the point that it has made the US’s decision inconsequential.
We’re entering a phase of exponential innovation where the impact of each technology is another multiplier. Developments in battery design, smart grid, blockchain and smart contracts are driving us through the tipping point. The economics of renewables transcends the argument for using fossil fuels. To prove a point, according to the Department of Energy, there are about 373,000 Americans working in solar energy – more than double that of the coal industry. The coal sector has been shedding jobs for decades, driven by automation of work and, more recently, the abundance of cheap natural gas.
A knock on effect from the decision and what most likely will happen now is that we will find new leaders and front-runners in renewable energy, with the likes of China and Europe leading the way. You only have to look at India, used as an example of the ‘unfairness’ of the Agreement and thus a reason to leave, and it is excelling in its part of it’s self-imposed Paris Agreement targets – no more planned coal power stations and massive investments into solar power. All this to try and provide electricity to the estimated 300 million people not connected. A sure and clean way to expand their economy.
Moving back to the States we are already seeing a backlash against the POTUS’s decision. Three major states – California, New York, Washington and 61 US Cities – with surely more to come, have pledged to drive on with their part of the Paris Agreement.
Ultimately, withdrawing from the Paris agreement isn’t news. We already expected it to happen because Trump has been talking about it since his Presidential campaign. The truth is, it’s not going to stop the inevitable innovation throughout the energy industry and the future is clearly focused on renewables. The upside is that the announcement on June 1st is a forcing function: it will unify those who believe in a sustainable energy to work together and drive further innovation. We’ve never been more motivated.
What is the Paris Agreement, watch this short but insightful video, everything you need to know.