In the lead up to talks between the G20 nations that will take place over the next few months, Germany has commissioned an independent study to analyse the potential impacts of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. The report found that the investments in renewable energy could add $US19 trillion ($25 trillion) to the world's economy.
On Wednesday, US President Trump released a draft federal spending budget for 2018. It reads like a Mad Max. Fury Road prequel. The budget outline savagely guts the Environmental Protection Agency, reducing overall spending by 31 per cent and zeroing out key features of the agency, from climate change research to pollution control programs to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. If enacted, the proposed budget cuts would lead to an estimated 3200 jobs lost.
The International Renewable Energy Agency, or Irena, released its report yesterday. Excitingly, the study concludes that CO2 emissions can be reduced by 70 per cent by 2050 and eliminated entirely just 10 years later. That $US19 trillion ($25 trillion) figure would also be achieved by 2050 if current plans continue to move forward.
Renewable energy currently makes up 24 per cent of global power generation and would need to increase to 80 per cent by the target date. These are ambitious goals, but when the potential economic benefits and job creation are factored in, it makes perfect sense to approach the plan aggressively. Not to mention the whole saving humanity from extinction thing.
One piece of bad news is that the Irena report estimates that $US10 trillion ($13 trillion) worth of fossil fuels would be left in the ground, frustrating oil men and Sarah Palin for all eternity. Previously, the International Energy Agency had estimated only $US320 billion ($415 billion) of coal, oil, gas and other fuel sources would be left behind. The economic benefits of renewable energy would certainly make up for that "loss", but good luck convincing the money men.
This week, Germany will present its plan to the other governments in the group of 20 who have pledged to keep warming within 2C of pre-industrial conditions. Recent reports indicated that the Germans are being very careful with their approach to the meeting because they are all too conscious of the likely pushback from the Trump administration. "The Germans are trying to find a way to move their climate change and energy agenda, and at the same time not raise red flags for President Trump," John Kirton, co-director of the University of Toronto's G-20 Research Group told Bloomberg.
An example of the extreme measures that leaders are taking to avoid getting on Trump's bad side is the decision to remove a section about climate change from the document. Following Trump's disastrous meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, its safe to say that no one is feeling more confident about the upcoming talks going smoothly.
There is still hope, though. Fossil-fuel companies like Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips have expressed their support for the Paris Agreement, and reportedly Trump has been calling up private companies to feel out opinions. Sources tell Reuters that the White House is reconsidering its intention to "cancel the Paris Climate Agreement" within 100 days.
For Trump, it's all about showing him the money. But the man he's chosen to lead the EPA has had a vendetta against the agency for years that almost seems personal. Yesterday, Stephen Hawking was asked, if he could only deliver one message to the president, what would that be? "He should replace Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency," Hawking replied.