President Trump. Two words I find it difficult but not surprising to type. After Brexit I have thought it was highly likely he would win for some months. There are two reasons for this one of which is covered below and the other is the polls which simply cannot be trusted anywhere at the moment. There are two questions raised by President Trump. The first is the implications for policy change and the second is why and what can we do about it?
On policy change the most worrying as far as this site is concerned, climate change and energy policy. Trump thinks that climate change is a Chinese plot to destroy America’s economy. Where to start? This view alone shows he is serially unsuited to be president. Apart from the complete (wilful?) ignorance about the history of climate change perhaps its best to say if the Chinese are plotting why do they have the largest renewables programme in history, which is costing them billions of dollars? We have just ratified the Paris treaty and now its at risk. The second area of concern is Trump’s vision of resurrecting the coal industry (just as the pesky Chinese are doing the exact opposite). As the Chinese have found coal fired power has a whole heap of pollution problems apart from CO2. The big problem for Trump is that soon, if not already on the best sites, wind/solar/storage will be cheaper than coal (and probably create more jobs too). This leaves the question of what he will do? Tax solar like Spain, or subsidise coal and fracking (which I assume is also in the mix).
This site has always taken an interest in politics as does our book since our view was we need to change the way we live radically to cope with energy security and climate issues and that is by its very nature political. In all the Western world people are hurting. Neoliberalism and globalisation have meant only the very wealthiest have got wealthier over the last 30 years. Where jobs have been created they have tended to be insecure and poorly paid (I know something of this myself). Both Brexit and the US election are a kickback against this. Electoral commentators and traditional political parties still have not come to terms with this which has manifested itself in the rise of nationalism and nationalistic parties pretty much everywhere. Its highly debatable whether a billionaire with very simplistic solutions will solve the very real problems caused by globalisation. Last time large scale protectionism was tried we had a world war. Quite what the solutions to this are I don’t know, but we need to start finding them fast as automation is going to make this far worse.
Like Brexit its hard to see anything good coming out of the Trump victory. It won’t achieve what those who voted for it want and do real damage. I cannot condemn those voted for either though, even if I think they have disadvantaged themselves by doing so. However, we who do not agree with these outcomes really need to think about solutions for a way forward, fast.