January 19, 2017
When he nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as EPA director, former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Energy Secretary and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, many perceive Donald Trump put down his marker for fossil fuels and against renewables.
Yet in their confirmation hearings, they went out of their way to distance themselves from that notion. Tillerson was upbeat about the US stepping up on renewables. Pruitt said climate change was not a hoax and indicated general support for renewables. Perry disavowed his position in the 2012 election that the Department of Energy should be abolished, and cast doubt on reports the Trump administration intended to defund the DoE office of Renewable Energy and Efficiency.
So where does that leave us? Should we be bearish on the near term future of clean energy? Hardly. Of the many forces influencing it, national politics is not one of the stronger ones. The Trump administration may have little interest in decarbonization, but markets have a great deal of interest in it. Based on the signals it has sent so far, the administration seems to have little incentive or appetite for getting in the way.
Global renewables investment is enormous — China alone invested $100 billion last year. In many countries, solar and wind are reaching cost parity with fossil fuels. We’re rapidly surging toward a multi-trillion-dollar global clean energy market — the largest in history.
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