The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy?

by Emil Morhardt

Barack Obama has been busy during his last days in office writing well-documented policy articles for major publications. Barely a week before turning over the Presidential reigns to Donald Trump he has commented in some detail in Science about how, in his view, the clean energy horse has left the barn and is unlikely to be stopped even by it’s most fervent detractors (Obama, 2017). He cites four reasons for believing this. The first is that as the US economy has grown, emissions have fallen; since 2008, the amount of energy consumed per dollar of GDP has fallen by 11%, the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy has fallen by 8%, and the CO2 emitted per dollar of GDP has fallen by 18%. Furthermore, worldwide the amount of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 were essentially the same as 2014, despite economic growth. He also points out that carbon pollution is increasingly expensive. Given the rhetoric of the incoming administration, though, this reasoning alone doesn’t appear to assure continuing in the same direction. Continue reading

Obama and Modi Negotiate Renewable Energy in India

by Melanie Paty

On January 25th, 2015, President Obama met with newly elected prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, primarily to discuss climate change. Ari Philips published an article for Think Progress that gives context for the negotiations and explains the climate conditions India is currently facing. The article cites staggering statistics about the urgency of pollution mitigation in India. Delhi is the most polluted city in the world with PM2.5 levels eight times higher than EPA approved levels and air pollution-related ailments contributing to 109,000 premature adult deaths per year. Delhi is not the only problem as India houses thirteen of the twenty most polluted cities. A chance to turn to a more sustainable path has opened with Modi taking office as he has increased India’s 2020 solar energy target by five times. The article sites Raymond Vickery who notes that this ambitious goal will be financially difficult for India as its new climate goals are estimated to require $100 billion in investments, much of which will need to come from private investors. Continue reading