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With commitments to clean energy and combatting climate change wavering under the new US administration, leadership in renewable energy is quietly shifting away from the United States across the Pacific, where China is rapidly building its dominance.

US President Donald Trump has been clear about his support for fossil fuels. Though his stance on renewable energy remains ambiguous, his comments about withdrawing from international climate agreements and his championing of the coal and oil industries suggest that the Trump administration may not be especially supportive of domestic wind and solar industries. While Trump may find the domestic advance of renewables hard to stop, the United States risks ceding its international leadership role in clean energy to China.
Energy resources and innovative technology could be a cornerstone of the independence and security of all countries, but this requires a commitment to transatlantic cooperation, according to Poland’s Deputy Energy Minister Michael Kurtyka.

“Our nations, every one of them, are… first for our citizens, but we have to cooperate,” Kurtyka said at the Atlantic Council on January 31. “When the American government is in transition and the European Union is in crisis, it is good to start talking about this kind of cooperation.”
While the US-Mexico relationship has been making headlines because of the political fallout from US President Donald Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for a border wall, it is important to consider Mexico’s role in global and regional energy markets as well as its energy relationship with the United States.  
The oil production cuts set forth in a deal recently enacted by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will be upheld by the nations involved, effectively stabilizing the global energy market, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC’s secretary general, said in Abu Dhabi on January 12.

“I remain very confident with what I have seen in the last several months,” Barkindo said at the Atlantic Council’s inaugural Global Energy Forum. “The level of commitment I have seen on both sides, to me I think is unparalleled,” he added. Barkindo expressed confidence that signatories to the deal will meet their commitments, emphasizing the level of cooperation among all stakeholders.
December 5 was probably not a happy day for tourists in Paris. The good news was the traffic was much better than usual, and the Metro and other forms of public transit were free. The bad news was that the city was having yet another pollution crisis.

Choking smog and murky air are often associated with emerging market cities in China and more recently India, with the primary culprits being coal-fired power and heavy industry. Yet French electricity is 76 percent powered by zero-emissions nuclear generation and its manufacturing sector has plunged from 13 percent of GDP in 1975 to just 6 percent in 2015.

So, what is the problem in Paris? In a word: traffic. 
Three years after its historic approval, with the conclusion of Round One and the first farm out of Pemex, Mexico’s energy reform in the upstream—the exploration and production sector—is beginning to consolidate itself. 

On December 5, for the first time in Mexico’s history, international and national oil companies bid competitively for blocks in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Eight out of the ten blocks offered received bids. Earlier that morning, the tendering took place for Trión, a discovery of Pemex in the Perdido Fold Belt for which Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company needed partners to share the risk and get the know-how to bring it to commercial development. In a context of volatile oil prices and uncertainty regarding US policies toward Mexico, the outcome of Round One’s Fourth Bid is the result of a process three years in the making, which generated credibility and confidence to invest in Mexico’s upstream sector.
The United Nations’ Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called on US President-elect Donald Trump to work with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, however, many other factors must be considered before the United States enters into such an alliance, according to an Atlantic Council expert.

“Putting together a coherent strategy around [the fight against the Islamic State] when you inherit the portfolio, I think the Trump administration is going to have a steep learning curve,” said Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East on November 29. “Cutting a deal with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is great, but there’s other players involved,” he added.
The US approach to Russia, specifically the future of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine in 2014, is one of the many US foreign policies thrown into question by Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States. Quickly lifting these sanctions may simplify compliance efforts for the private sector in the short term, but could create serious challenges for businesses in the long term. Predictability and stability could be undermined by a something-for-nothing deal that lifts the sanctions. The new president may act as early as March of 2017, when the national emergency that underlies the sanctions must be renewed or else expire.
Continued US commitment to the Paris agreement is crucial to the future of the deal and its ability to combat climate change, said Richard L. Morningstar, founding director and chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.

Morningstar joined Tom Cunningham, deputy director of the Global Energy Center, for a Facebook Live discussion on the importance of continued US commitment to the Paris agreement on both a global and a grassroots scale. Morningstar described how a US rejection of the agreement could leave the United States “isolated” on the world stage.

Additionally, Cunningham described the implications of the deal’s success in combating climate change, as it affects all US citizens. “One thing that I’ve taken from this election is that there’s a huge part of the United States electorate that is skeptical about the reality of climate change, but definitely skeptical about it being a serious priority that requires US action and global cooperation,” Cunningham said. 
Donald J. Trump was elected the forty-fifth president of the United States on November 8. Atlantic Council analysts and board members describe the challenges and opportunities the new president will face as he takes office in January of 2017, and provide policy recommendations.


    

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