Climate Change: What Follows as US Surrenders Global Leadership Role?

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as scribbles occasional travel pieces for The National.

It will surprise virtually no one who’s been paying attention to hear that the Trump administration is ground zero for a certain brand of climate denialism and is especially close to the fossil fuels industry. Trump selected then-Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State and chose Scott Pruitt– who in his former role as  attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, filed several lawsuits to block federal climate change initiatives–  as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The headline of a Saturday New York Times article minces no words on cui bono from Pruitt assuming that role: How Rollbacks at Scott Pruitt’s E.P.A. Are a Boon to Oil and Gas.

Right out of the box, the administration and its congressional allies have worked to roll back existing initiatives to constrain the fossil fuel industry. As just one minor, but fully-completed example, let’s look at measures the Securities and Exchange Commission had adopted that would have forced extractive industries to report their payments made to governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals, and were due to come into effect in 2018. As I wrote in a January post, Republicans to Use CRA to Roll Back ‘Midnight’ Rules and Benefit Oil Companies:

The rules — mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation– are just one policy intended to address the resource curse that blights countries with ample natural resources (the US position requiring disclosure on this issue was lauded in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who called on Europe to do the same). Government officials and the wealthy siphon off and mineral wealth in these countries, at the expense of the majority of a country’s citizens; in general, countries well-endowed with natural resources boast lower rates of economic growth compared to those that lack such advantages. The rationale behind these rules is that by requiring issuers to disclose the payments– i.e., bribes– they’ve had to pay to develop national resources, internal and external campaigners will have necessary information to pressure governments to cease their corrupt practices.

These disclosure rules have long been a bugbear of energy companies– which earlier sued successfully to overturn a 2012 predecessor version overturned, resulting in a 2013 federal district court decision sending the rules back to the SEC to start again.

As I wrote at that time, Republicans pledged to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to invalidate those rules, and indeed did follow through on this promise. I refer interested readers to these two posts for further details, Republicans Deploy CRA Authority to Roll Back Regulations and Trump and Congress Use Congressional Review Act to Roll Back 14 ‘Midnight’ Rules; More to Follow?

So, that should leave extractive industries, such as oil and gas companies, sitting pretty and no longer obliged to observe extractive industry disclosure rules, right?

Well, not so fast. As the blog reports today, These 77 countries have extractive industries disclosure rules. On the consumption side, that includes France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.  Fifty-one of these are members of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and are subject to its requirements.

The bottom line here is that scuppering the new SEC extractive industries disclosure rule has no impact on the extensive framework that other countries are separately building to confront this problem. And I should further note, although the US has rejected the new rule, the existing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act imposes its own anti-bribery restrictions, which I discuss at further length on this post, The Obamamometer’s Toxic Legacy: The Rule of Lawlessness, and to which extractive industries are subject– as indeed are all other US public companies.

Climate Change Campaign Promise: Scuppering US Support for the Paris Climate Accord

Trump has clearly committed to pulling out of the Paris accord. Of course, his track record has been shall we say, somewhat erratic on following through on his numerous– admittedly contradictory– campaign pledges. Yet so far, Trump has not abandoned commitments concerning fossil fuels and climate change, as I report in this post, Trump Approves Keystone XL Pipeline, Making Good on Campaign Promise. So the wise betting line is that sometime soon, Trump will pull out of the Paris agreement. That course of action seems best to accord both with Trump’s personnel decisions, and the actions he– and they– have taken so far.

Yet in an article published today, US warned on dangers of abandoning Paris climate accord, the Financial Times reports on a recent interview it conducted with the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Beurden, an avowed supporter of the Paris climate deal, warning that Trump “will put American companies at a disadvantage and weaken the US’s global standing if he pulls out of the Paris climate deal.” The FT account notes further that Shell’s seeks to increase  its investment in green technology, “as the world reduces its dependence on fossil fuels, the company’s longtime lifeblood.”

Significantly, according to the FT account:

Mr van Beurden broke ranks with chief executives who have been reluctant to challenge the US president publicly by declaring that Mr Trump’s pledge to abandon the Paris accord would be self-defeating.

“It would be unhelpful on a number of fronts,” ….

“With the US being the largest investment destination for a company like Shell, yes, I think I would regret having a lot of business here that potentially could be at a disadvantage because of [the] implications of that decision to pull out of Paris.”

I found van Beurden’s action to be interesting– so much so, that I want to note it in a post, even though I think it’s most likely that Trump will persevere and ultimately seek to withdraw the US from its Paris commitments.  Yet I concur that any US climbdown on its support for renewable energy as expressed in the Paris accord would have consequences for US manufacturers of products such as solar panels, wind turbines, and other power equipment. Demand for these is increasing as the appetite for renewable power grows, according to the FT:

“The US has a major crop of companies that deliver technologies that are going to be relevant in the energy transition,” said Mr van Beurden, “and one way or another they will also find themselves probably more disadvantaged than advantaged by the US pulling out [of Paris]. So I cannot see where the upside is.”

What Happens Next?

So, does a possible future US withdrawal from Paris commitments spell the death knell of efforts to arrest or at minimum, slow climate change? Again, not so fast. Let me discuss just one area of seeming progress. I draw the attention of readers to a further editorial, in today’s New York Times, entitled China and India Make Big Strides on Climate Change. Permit me to quote from this at length:

Until recently, China and India have been cast as obstacles, at the very least reluctant conscripts, in the battle against climate change. That reputation looks very much out-of-date now that both countries have greatly accelerated their investments in cost-effective renewable energy sources — and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels. It’s America — Donald Trump’s America — that now looks like the laggard.

According to research released last week at a United Nations climate meeting in Germany, China and India should easily exceed the targets they set for themselves in the 2015 Paris Agreement signed by more than 190 countries. China’s emissions of carbon dioxide appear to have peaked more than 10 years sooner than its government had said they would. And India is now expected to obtain 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022, eight years ahead of schedule.

Every one of the Paris signatories will have to reduce emissions to ward off the worst consequences of global warming — devastating droughts, melting glaciers and unstoppable sea level rise. But the tangible progress by the world’s number one producer of greenhouse gases (China) and its number three (India) are astonishing nonetheless, and worth celebrating.

The editorial here takes a swipe at the Trump administration’s claims (which echo those of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush) that measures to combat global warming would impose unacceptable economic costs and cost jobs. Instead, according to the NYT:

China and India are finding that doing right by the planet need not carry a big economic cost and can actually be beneficial. By investing heavily in solar and wind, they and others like Germany have helped drive down the cost of those technologies to a point where, in many places, renewable sources can generate electricity more cheaply than dirtier sources of energy like coal. In a recent auction in India, developers of solar farms offered to sell electricity to the grid for 2.44 rupees per kilowatt-hour…. That is about 50 percent less than what solar farms bid a year earlier and about 24 percent less than the average price for energy generated by coal-fired power plants.

I should point out that although this may all be news to the NYT editorial board, these issues are kicked around in the robust and lively Indian (English-language) press (and the general scope of the story began to become apparent, in the last half dozen years or so, in specialty energy publications and elsewhere). Just yesterday, for example, The Times of India’s Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, who writes the Swaminomics column, advocated g taking advantage of record low solar power tariffs — set at 2.44 INR per kilowatt hour (3.78 US cents– at an auction earlier this month– which are expected to continue to decline further, by as much as one-half– instead of expanding nuclear capacity, in this piece, Don’t go for pricey foreign N-power plants when solar’s going dirt-cheap. (I should note that this piece concedes “This price cloaks implicit subsidies like cheap land, accelerated depreciation, and hidden costs for transmission and the backing down of thermal plants. But nuclear power also gets cheap land, cheap insurance (a huge subsidy) and guaranteed offtake.”)

The point of this post is not to discuss in detail the economics of Chinese or Indian power generation (and the various hidden and explicit subsidies that make it difficult to assess the costs of various types of energy production). Nor do I wish to dwell on any scientific discussion of whether these non-US actions are all occurring too little, too late. Instead, I want to make readers aware that while Trump has apparently doubled down on a pro-fossil fuels  policy and is likely to stay that course, there’s been a huge shift by the world’s two most populous countries  away from fossil fuels. This can only promise  at least some benefit for the future– although as many members of the commentariat will no doubt emphasize and with which I agree, much more needs to be done, and soon.

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  1. TomDority

    There was a time, some thirty or more years ago that the US did have a leadership role, that is, until private ummm.. privatization put their fat finger and shortsighted interests above the public good by shaking down the tax and legal system. We pay for the total incompetence they (finacial pioneers) are at producing anything in a real production environment.
    a side rant:
    Look at the utter shrill, chicken-liitle stance the disappointed Clinton minions are raising on Russia and Obama care, civil rights, inequality, lack of prosecution for financial crimes et al that Hillary WOULD have DONE SUCH A GREAT JOB. It is utter rubbish … completely made up…like cops were not getting off after shooting some unarmed lower class deplorable citizen before Trump was elected. We spend hundreds of billions on fighting terrorism on US soil when the average citizen is more apt to be shot by a four year old with a hand-gun.
    Meanwhile….War rages unending and, the sixth extinction event… ushered in by man’s hubris and continued fight between labor and rentier class continues unabated.
    I am not a Trump fan…but at least the major issues of our times gets some debate and headlines as opposed to being sugar coated…. like Obama doing the bidding for the FIRE sector – no prosecution, no health care just health insurance (two distinct items), continued war and privatization of same.
    Yes – America giving up it’s leadership on the environment — that is really rich…considering America had a fleeting time when we had the lead years ago but, of course, the financial sector and the leaders of the shareholder class tossed that all away as not profitable.
    The planet must decide if it wants to save public space (the planet) … my vote in the USA is for the planet …even if is not profitable (oxymoron alert) OR, continue to squabble over scraps and throw feces at eachother while the whole ship (space ship earth) goes down.
    OOps…got to get back to work.
    No need to firgure out a way to toss Trump’s name under every bus…The issues are much bigger than that.

  2. nonsense factory

    There’s a certain argument that the Trump Administration has merely taken down the window dressing the Obama Administration put up that obscured the basic pro-fossil fuel policy of the U.S. government, regardless of which political party is in power. That U.S. government policy is based on the desire to realize the huge investments that Wall Street funds and banks have put into fossil fuel projects with 10-20 year development-to-profitability timelines. This includes everything from offshore oil to oil&gas fracking to tar sand syncrude projects to various refinery and petrochemical projects.

    If we really wanted off fossil fuels, the policies to implement are pretty straightforward:

    (1) First, abandon all cap-and-trade and emissions-trading approaches; they’ve been almost useless in terms of halting the growth of fossil fuel use – and the so-called “offsets” in such schemes do nothing to prevent fossil CO2 from entering the atmosphere. This is a failed policy and needs to be recognized as such.

    (2) Instead, implement a carbon tax on all fossil fuels, on a sliding scale relative to pollution and energy per CO2 emitted – tax coal the highest, oil second highest, gas lowest. This would also involve the elimination of all fossil fuel subsidy programs, from tax breaks to loan guarantees. Those added tax revenues should be used to subsidize long-term renewable energy development programs.

    (3) Third, implement a variety of renewable energy support programs:

    3A. Research funding at the federal level, so that universities are encouraged to set up renewable energy & energy efficiency research divisions, on the scale of NIH or NSF or NASA budgets (25 billion per year, say)

    3B. Loan guarantees for large-scale wind, solar and storage projects subject to a strong review process, on the same scale as past loan guarantees for fossil fuel development, such as the $18 billion loan guarantee for the Alaskan gas pipeline granted in 2005. Similar loan guarantee programs for electric vehicle manufacturing, electrified mass transit, etc. could be considered. Importantly, they need to go to the base of the renewable energy development program, for projects that would benefit the overall industry rather than specific companies. (For example, a reliable low-cost supply of high-purity silicon for many solar panel manufacturers to tap into, or lithium for battery manufacturers, etc.).

    3C. Feed-in tariffs and guaranteed power purchase deals for all renewable energy producers, including homeowners with solar roofs, such that investment-owned utilities would not be able to deny renewable producers access to the grid. This would also require a lot of investment in upgrading national electrical grids (which got a D on a recent infrastructure report card) as well as in storage for grid management.

    This kind of effective multi-level approach would lead to rapid growth in renewables and clean technologies – but would also have serious repercussions for the profitability of existing long-term Wall Street investments in fossil fuels, as well as for the viability of the fossil fuel corporations themselves. Massive write-offs would be unavoidable, and renewable energy is unlikely to be as profitable as fossil fuels have been (since you can’t monopolize and set a price on sunlight and wind). Since such entities have huge sway over both the Democratic and Republican parties, they’ve successfully blocked the kind of policies needed to get off fossil fuels for several decades now.

    So we are looking at a picture, under the current system, where countries without large fossil fuel reserves (particularly of gas and oil), but in need of clean power, such as China and India and Germany, are going to become the world leaders in renewable energy manufacturing and deployment, and hence in economic and environmental health, while the United States continues to slide into Third World status. This can only be reversed by a major political upset in the United States that removes entrenched Democratic and Republican leaders from their seats of power, and breaks the power of Wall Street and large corporations to control political decisions.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Whether its too late or not is another question, but there is no question but that we have reached an economic tipping point with renewables – the drop in solar electric costs has been astonishing, and still on going, while wind energy keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. And most importantly, the cost of storage options is dropping too, and consistently so. I’ve no doubt this is behind the very rapid changes in China and India. Even here in wet and rainy Ireland, there are proposals for dozens of large commercial solar farms – this would have been unthinkable just 3 or 4 years ago. There are plenty of indications too that the car industry are accepting now that investing in diesel was a bad move, that they are going all out for hybrids and EV’s in the 5-10 year timescale.

    While in the short term its very damaging, I suspect Trumps policy will actually accelerate this process. The fossil fuel industry in the US has been cutting its own throat over the last few years by excess investment in capacity. This will be damaging in the short term for renewables as it just can’t compete when there are such gluts of oil and gas in particular, but smarter investors must have realised that fossil fuels are an increasingly risky investment. The mad rush into building LNG faciliites to export the US’s gas surplus is a sign of desperation, not of a sensible investment climate – there simply isn’t the demand for this gas worldwide.

    I would guess that Shell’s enthusiasm for Paris is more based on the knowledge that a phased reduction in fossil fuel production will be more profitable for them in the medium to long term than a free for all which has already undermined their massive investments in offshore oil and gas.

    1. Mark P.


      While I agree with much of what you say, I’d point out: –

      Firstly, all of it is contingent on battery technology continuing to progress as now. It probably will, but keep your fingers crossed.

      Secondly, I suggest that you’re guilty of confirmation bias when you look at the scene and choose to conclude that the ‘mad rush into building LNG facilities to export the US’s gas surplus is a sign of desperation … there simply isn’t the demand for this gas worldwide.’

      Because it’s the lower cost of LNG that’s killing coal and nuclear now, more than renewables. That may change. But overall the recent Chinese announcement that they can now mine methane clathrates may be a valid indicator of part of what’s going to happen in the 21st century.
      ‘China claims breakthrough in mining ‘flammable ice” — BBC

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Fracked gas is certainly killing coal and nuclear now, but its not LNG in the US (except at the margin, its used for load balancing in some regions). The LNG proposals are for export to Europe and Asia. The problem is that LNG is always expensive than pipeline gas – if there is a pipeline, this will always win out. Only the Japanese are entirely dependent on LNG. In Europe, the Russians and Norwegians just have to pump more gas out to compete with LNG and proposals for pipelines from Russia to China are more attractive to the Chinese than LNG terminals for cost reasons.

        Of course, I could be proved wrong – I’m no expert on the topic – but I see no evidence of an appetite in any of the major consuming countries for US LNG. Its useful of leveraging deals with other suppliers, but ultimately its too expensive a product compared to the alternatives.

        Another issue of course is cost curves. Gas at the moment is very cheap because of US fracking, but ultimately its price can only really go up. But solar and wind have a constant downward cost curve. That matters.

        You are right of course about batteries – again, I’m no expert on the topic, but it seems to me that with all the investment going in to batteries, the only limitation is the fundamental costs of material inputs (such as lithium). In the UK, they are starting to use lithium batteries for load balancing near wind farms – just 5 years ago there is no way lithium batteries could have been competitive with this. There is a lot of capacity coming on-stream, I really think it will start to push prices down even more, even without technological break throughs

        1. John Wright

          Sometime ago a NC commenter stated that a new solar plant takes one year to produce the energy it took to make it.

          This makes it appear that solar has a problem with the recovery of the fundamental investment of energy for fabrication, but upon further reflection, the recovering of its fabrication energy in one year may not be a bad deal at all..

          Assume a country were to build solar plants and ONLY use each plant’s output to build other solar plants, so the solar generated electrical energy would not be used for other purposes.

          In 10 years, the first plant would build 10 more over the period, the second plant would build 9 more over the period, the third 8 more and so forth

          Again, in this assumption, none of the solar plant output flows to current electrical needs.

          The formula for the sum of this sequence is ( (N * (N+1))/2 so the number of solar plants after 10 years, built solely by solar power over this period is given by (10 * (10 +1))/2 or 55.

          So one solar plant could result in a total of 55 on line in 10 years, with no additional energy input from any other sources..

          From a strategic standpoint, a country could justify burning hydrocarbons now to make solar plants for use when hydrocarbons are rare or environmentally costly to use.

          Being last at renewable energy could be another strategic fail for the USA .

      2. Praedor

        Everyone should give into mining the methane clathrates… Before climate change starts causing their wholesale sublimation into gas. They are already gasing out more and more as it is but if it really starts taking off, it is truly lights out on most complex life (including humans). It is better that much of that methane be converted into less nasty CO2 via burning than to allow much of it to enter the atmosphere as is. Methane is orders of magnitude worse for long-term climate change than “mere” CO2.

        1. Mark P.

          Well, I agree. It’s a no-brainer from a practical analysis and it’s what I expect to happen as the century proceeds.

          But it’s going to be resisted by the no-CO2 purists.

        2. different clue

          Is it possible to mine and burn all the methane clathrates beFORE the skycarbon from burning SOME of them warms the shallow seas so much that the REST of them all melt-in–place and rise to the surface beFORE we can mine them and burn them all?

  4. subgenius

    US as global leader?

    Well, yeah if you are talking about the leader IN CAUSING climate change.

    Leading the charge to prevent or mitigate? Show me ANY proof of anything meaningful (any reduction in extraction, pollution, environmental damage…) that has been achieved.

    1. Dead Dog

      US surrenders global leadership role in climate change?

      So funny. I think the ROW is glad they have, might start going in right direction now.

      1. witters

        Who can forget this Glorious Moment of Global Leadership?

        “Before the [Kyot] protocol was finalized, in July 1997, the Senate resolved by a 95 to 0 vote that the United States should not sign any agreement that omitted binding targets for developing countries or that would seriously harm the U.S. economy.

        Although the United States signed the protocol more than a year later, in November 1998, neither President Bill Clinton nor his successors ever submitted it to the Senate.”

        1. craazyboy

          At the behest of Big Selfish Car and Oil, in 1995 Congress passed protectionist legislation [gasp!] giving automakers a 40% import duty on small trucks and SUVs. No mileage requirement. Japan promptly moved their production to the US.

          All accretive to GDP!

          1. different clue

            If the production Japan was thereby incentivized to move to America was all of the small-car type which had been being produced in Japan up to that point . . . then the newly-made-in-America small Japanese cars are not emitting any MORE carbon due to being made in America than they would have emitted if they had been made in Japan and then sold for use in American AFter being made in Japan. So no net gain in carbon skydumping was caused by this duty.

            And all the Japanese cars made here did not have to be shipped here anymore. How many super ships were involved in shipping Japanese cars to America before that protectionist tariff? How many millions-of-carloads-worth of carbon were those super ships skydumping just getting the cars here? Taking those superships out of service has been the same as taking millions of cars off the road. So that is a net skydumping reduction gain.

            So that protectionist tariff actually had been good for carbon skydumping reduction. Just not good enough to matter in the wider scope.

            But it offers some interesting lessons for those who dare to think.

  5. Robert NYC

    “U.S. Surrenders Global Leadership Role?” hahahahahahaha, WTF? What planet are you living on? The only leadership role the U.S. has played with respect to climate change is leading the charge to destroy the planet! Is the Trump administration worse than the Obama, Bush, Clinton administrations? Sure, but they were awful as well and didn’t really do anything meaningful to address the problem.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I should have made my ironic intent more clear by adding “Any Pretense of” before the global, but didn’t, b/c it was a headline and I wanted to keep it short. (Maybe I should have inserted quotation marks instead?) My bad. As you point out, the Trump administration is only the latest to continue a sad and sorry trend. But the point of this piece wasn’t to discuss that awful record– which would be well known to regular readers. Instead, I wanted to draw readers’ attention to the Shell CEO’s comments, plus to make clear what China and India have been up to to get their own houses in order.

  6. jfleni

    The grease monkeys, and soot monkeys, and plutocrat monkeys (like our Hon. Pres.) will resist to the last, even if they stand to lose; we can only hope that they get shellacced so badly that they cannot live it down, and that looks now very likely.

  7. Expat

    Trump is old and cares only about Trump. Same for most of the geriatric Senators, Congressmen, and CEO’s across America. They are generally narcissistic sociopaths so any assumptions that they will plan for a future beyond their own lifespan are optimistic to the point of being pure fantasy. If the rich and powerful are concerned about the future, it is only in the sense of leaving a legacy of wealth and power which is associated with them personally.

    I am a pessimist by nature. I doubt that the “little people” can change things or understand enough to do so. The dialogue is between the Powers That Be (see above) and the scientific community. The scientific community has been belittled and sidelined since Bush.

    Basically, we are “doomed”. Now I say “doomed” because it’s not the end of humanity, of course. It is just the end of many of us. Frankly, so what? Whether there are billion of us or ten billion of us, we still need to survive and get off the planet before it gets destroyed. I am thinking long-term.

    Then again, do we want humanity spreading through the solar system or galaxy if it can’t even keep its own house tidy?

  8. Paul Tioxon

    I fully expect the Trump administration to stay the course with COP21 because the The Texas Oil Cartel and other majors want to have their seat at the table when the rest of the world draws up the Climate Change equivalent of the Papal Line of Demarcation. If you sit it out, the rest of the world, which has already gone deep into building solar panel factories and other Green Renewable technologies production facilities, will write the rules to their advantage. To extend the day of reckoning for Peak Demand going on the downward slope, the US with Rex Tillerson will need to be seated and dominating the agenda. If you sit out the negotiations, who knows what crazy stuff will come out with France taking the lead with China and India? Talk about denial!

    Even when using coal, the Chinese use ultra modern high temp steam driven turbines that are not cleaner because of emissions, but because they generate more electricity with burning less coal as fuel.

    But more importantly, they just don’t want to have keep buying fuel and making capital investments in equipment. Solar cuts out the commodity fuel cost altogether, and that is a smart investment any nitwit minister of finance or anything else can understand. No Arab Oil Embargo consequences with no fuel to import if you catch my drift.

    Important take away from above piece: “Someone tell President Trump coal is dead, please.”

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        I’ve been following this trend for at least 6 or 7 years, and wrote several articles for some specialist solar industry publications on large-scale power generation projects– most written in 2011 or thereabouts– as well as a longer feature for a magazine on the efforts to provide small Indian users– rural, some urban stall holders– with individual solar installations. The kind that can provide an electric light to people otherwise off the grind. Although the output of these is tiny, what a difference that light can make! Improved school results– because children can now study in the evenings– lower birth rates– because having a light allows people to do tasks, etc., rather than retiring early. I could go on….

        The state of Gujarat set up some pilot renewable projects in the 1970s– no typo– and former PM Manmohan Singh sparked the commitment to new and renewable energy– going so far as to create a Minister for New And Renewable Energy. India’s commitment to a cleaner power strategy is not some recent thing.

        Parts of the country– Gujarat, Rajasthan– are particularly well-suited to large-scale solar production, while others — Gujarat, Tamil Nadu– have opted for wind. The central government imposed a minimal renewable power target on each state, and created a system for trading renewable power from states that are efficient producers to those that aren’t.

        I’m not so conversant with the Chinese details.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          A few years back I did a few cycling trips to remote parts of north India (around Ladakh region and other parts of HP) and also Chinese Tibet. It was very noticeable that in India they were much better at using micro-schemes to provide power to local villages – mostly micro-hydro with solar. It seemed to work very well. In Tibet I saw few signs of this apart from the ubiquitous solar water kettle heaters. In Bhutan they seem to have fewer micro-schemes, but the overall power network (almost all generated from run of the river hydro schemes) seems better, even in remote areas. In some parts of Bhutan they even underground all cables at huge expense just to prevent bird deaths – all at the urging of local people.

          My earliest encounter though with micro schemes was in China, in Inner Mongolia in 1997. I visited a very remote yurt with two huge solar panels and a satellite dish outside. When I went in I found they were being used to power the TV – three old ladies were huddled around it, watching Bundesliga football!

  9. RBHoughton

    Al Gore gave a TED talk last February in which the progress of change was recapitulated. It was a noteworthy performance and I commend everyone to watch it.

    If Gore is only half right, the Trump administration is too late to make a difference. The extent of investment in alternatives has already passed the tipping point.

  10. ewmayer

    Tangential – the May 14th Dilbert strip (dilbert dot com slash strip slash 2017-05-14) may induce cognitive dissonance – while most NCers will enjoy the dig at ‘economic science’, I expect the one at climate modeling will be rather more divisive. Don’t shoot me, I’m merely the instigator messenger!

    1. different clue

      If Mr. Adams really believes what he is saying, he will take advantage of this contrarian opportunity to buy up vast amounts of seaside land in South Florida, coastal Louisiana, etc.

      If only someone could bring to his attention the vast contrarian investing opportunity laid out before his very feet.

  11. different clue

    Certain sub-national and/or regional/local jurisdictions can take mini-leadership and micro-leadership roles in down-shifting energy use within their own little jurisdictional areas.

    Several million individual persons who think growing a much-lower-energy-use lifestyle is possible and desirable could do some of that in their personal and immediate-small-network social lives.

    Perhaps enough millions of people doing Conservation Lifestyling in full view of eachother might gain enough confidence from seeing millions of themselves doing it that they would be heartened and remoralized enough to start growing a movement devoted to forcing Energy Conservation upon an unwilling Greater Society.

  12. different clue

    In these perilous times, it may become necessary to walk, chew gum and tie our shoes at the same time. What that means is . . . fighting the Clinto-Fed Regime Elite conspiracy to overthrow the election and drive Trump from office . . . and fight the Trump Economic Agenda at the very same time.

    So . . . losing the election? No. Putin didn’t do it. Clinton diddit all by herself, with some help from the Democratic Party. So F*ck #TheResistance.

    And at the same time? How do we Drain The Trump? And how do we Drain The Koch? Since the Trump and the Koch are fixated on burning more coal, we should be fixated on burning less coal. The biggest burner of coal is for electricity. The biggest restrictor of coal burning would be restricting the use of electricity . . . the electricity for which coal is burned. Any ideas on how to do that?

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