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An Energy Transition with a European Touch

Whereas the United States under President Donald Trump clearly will be unable to lead the fight against climate change, Europe aims to become the first carbon-neutral continent. And at the heart of the European climate agenda is the imperative of undertaking a “fair transition” to green economic growth.

MADRID – Tackling climate change is a monumental challenge, but the leader of the foremost global power continues to wash his hands of the matter. At the beginning of November, US President Donald Trump gave official notice of America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, thus confirming a decision he had announced in 2017. The notification came as soon as the agreement allowed, and the withdrawal will become effective the day after the US presidential election in November 2020. The United States will thus become the only country in the world that is not party to the pact.

All of the Democratic US presidential candidates have promised that, if they are elected, the US will rejoin the Paris accord. But the problem runs much deeper, because the Trump administration has been systematically dismantling environmental regulations introduced by President Barack Obama. Fortunately, the continued efforts of US states, cities, civil-society organizations, and businesses – along with economic drivers such as the competitiveness of natural gas – have partly mitigated the negative impact of Trump’s policies. Nonetheless, it is clear that America will be unable to lead the fight against climate change as long as the Trump administration continues to ignore and undermine the scientific evidence.

Other countries, meanwhile, are much more willing to embrace the cause. China, the world’s most prominent emerging power, still has plenty of room for improvement in terms of environmental protection, but has been making notable efforts to this end. In fact, it has even taken on a central role in climate diplomacy, alongside the European Union.

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