By Gavin Bade
It is the best of times and the worst of times for the climate in 2017.
On one hand, the chances for international climate action appear slimmer than ever. The world’s largest economy will soon be helmed by someone who rejects mainstream climate science and has promised to end domestic climate policies and exit international agreements. For a planet already behind the pace to limit global warming to 2°C this century, losing the initiative of a nation central to crafting the Paris climate accord would seem to be catastrophic.
But Donald Trump’s skepticism of renewable energy and promise of a coal resurgence belie the conditions on the ground. In fact, American renewable energy enters 2017 in its best market position ever — competitive with natural gas and cheaper than coal across swaths of the country. The persistently low price of natural gas, enabled by the fracking boom, has helped the U.S. reduce carbon pollution in recent years and decouple greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth…
…And even if the world’s economies stopped deploying fossil fuel assets today, some still see cause for concern. David Archer, a climate scientist at University of Chicago, noted that CO2 in the atmosphere is rising faster than the planet can keep up — a concept known as “committed warming.”
“This energy imbalance means even if CO2 stayed where it is today … the temperature would continue to rise for a long time because it takes a long time to warm the deep ocean especially,” he said. “So we’re already over the danger line and we don’t have time to [mess] around.”
These deep decarbonization issues would still exist had Democrat Hillary Clinton won the White House. Her climate plans, while ambitious, were likely not enough to align the U.S. with Paris goals. But even with federal action very likely off the table for Trump’s administration, some researchers see an opportunity for deep decarbonization just over the horizon.
Continue reading at Utility Dive…