At the historic 2015 Paris Summit, world leaders vowed to take steps to avoid damaging climate change. On November 6-17, UN negotiators will again work out the details of how to reduce emissions of gases that heat planet Earth.
This is the first conference since President Donald Trump said the United States would withdraw from the deal, leaving questions about the direction of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.
While Trump was campaigning for president, he promised to put coal miners back in work. Since taking office, he has sought to reverse policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and elsewhere.
The efforts include a move to overturn the Obama administration’s regulations targeting coal-fired power plants known as the Clean Power Plan.
Trump said, “Perhaps no single regulation threatens our energy workers, miners, and companies more than the attack that destroyed this American industry.”
But according to Amit Ronen of George Washington University, the impact on America’s emissions will probably be minimal.
Coal-fired power plants were shut down across the country. Power companies are turning to cheaper clean natural gas.
Renewable sources like wind and solar are in vogue, driving prices down. The price of electricity from renewable energy is competitive with fossil fuels in many places.
But other Trump administration actions can still restore coal. The trade case will soon authorize the president to place tariffs on imported solar panels – nearly all solar panels in America are imported. This could cost 88,000 jobs, said Tony Clifford of development company Standard Solar.
Experts say that many states and cities are stepping up efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, even though the federal government is pulling back. So federal tariffs won’t kill the renewable energy industry, says Rhodium Group analyst John Larsen.
DOE – the Department of Energy – has proposed paying more for coal and nuclear power than for electricity from other energy sources. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the plant provides constant, reliable power that no other source has.
Ultimately, experts say the Trump administration has limited power to save the coal industry.
However, while reducing coal use helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, experts say the results are not fast enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.