Donald Trump’s being elected the 45th President of the US has sent shock waves through the climate change community worldwide. Examining some recent energy and emission trends in the US would contribute to our understanding of what Trump might or might not undo. And while our initial shock and dismay is totally warranted, it would be short-sighted of us to ignore deeper drivers of global warming that will persist even after Trump comes and goes.
Mitch Whitaker remembers well when Letcher County, Kentucky was booming with mining jobs. In fact, coal mines like the one near the land that Whitaker’s family has owned for generations made the town so busy that miners had three shifts running through the day.
“Everything was booming,” the 55-year-old environmentalist told ThinkProgress.
Consider this remarkable fact, from a new report by the Rhodium Group:
The four largest US miners by output (Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, and Alpha Natural Resources), which account for nearly half of US production, were worth a combined $34 billion at their peak in 2011. Today they are worth $150 million.
On June 21, 2004, Charoen Wat-aksorn, a 37-year-old pineapple farmer from Bo Nok village in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, some 240 km [150 miles] south of Bangkok, was returning by bus to his hometown. He had just been in the capital to testify before a parliamentary anti-corruption panel as to how local politicians were colluding with business figures to conduct illegal land grabs.
The raucous rattle of a low flying helicopter shakes me awake. It must be the Police. The sun hasn’t risen yet and the tent’s sides still smell of morning dew. I doubt I was the only one in this field who didn’t sleep deeply last night. Today is the day of action we have been waiting for Ende Gelände (Here and no Further) – 1500 people have pledged to enter RWE’s Garzweiler open cast coal mine, and block the gargantuan “bagger” excavators with their bodies, thus shutting down Europe’s largest source of CO2 emissions.
Coal-fired capacity expansion in China is largely driven by an outdated market design that ‘guarantees’ each power plant a certain amount of operating hours. The system creates false investment security in an overcapacity situation, and has led to the absurd outcome that grid operators are failing to feed in electricity from wind and solar power plants to the grid in order to give coal-fired power plants their promised operating hours and revenue.
A new report released today by Oil Change International, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) exposes for the first time a web of billions of dollars of public finance flowing to support the coal industry each year by way of export support, development aid and general finance.
The analysis finds that public finance has played a significant role in supporting coal projects over the last 8 years. The report shows that between 2007 and 2014, more than US $73 billion – or over $9 billion a year – in public finance was approved for coal.