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Guest Blog: How the 2020 United States Election Was an Election for our Clean Energy Future

We’re pleased to introduce guest blogger, Jessica Wright, PhD candidate at Boston University and an expert in renewable energy transition. In this first blog, she discusses the US election and its meaning for the energy landscape.

2020 could not have been more relentless. Of course, the 2020 Presidential Election in the United States was no exception. Historic for many reasons, the 2020 election between President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden was a nail-biter through and through. While political ideologies and opinions on the outcome of the election differ, one thing is for sure, a win for Joe Biden means a win for renewable energy transition in the U.S.

Climate change has long been treated as a political agenda in the U.S., dividing parties and contributing to ruthless debates over jobs, the economy, U.S. global relations, and the role of science in informing policy. There is over-whelming scientific evidence that transitioning to clean energy on a global scale will help to lessen the effects of climate change, while at the same time promote job creation and better the public’s health. The 2020 presidential election had an unprecedented focus on clean energy and climate change, which helped to highlight the stark environmental differences between the two candidates and spoke volumes to the impact of the election on the future climate.

Over the term of his administration, President Trump has questioned the legitimacy of climate change science and pushed his agenda towards protecting and expanding jobs and investment in coal, oil, and gas.[1] One of the most symbolic acts displaying President Trump’s opinions on climate change was his withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord back in 2017. He cited “onerous energy restrictions” and “draconian financial and economic burdens” as a few of the reasons why.[2] This withdrawal spoke volumes to the global community about President Trump’s opinions on energy transition and his lack of willingness to work with others on developing clean energy jobs and technologies to take the U.S. into a sustainable energy future.

President-elect Joe Biden has come out strong as a climate and energy advocate after a rough 4 years of climate change questioning, deregulations, and energy efficiency roll backs. His platform is climate forward and strongly in favor of renewable energy transition and decarbonization.

President-elect Biden has developed an impressive clean energy agenda that will transition the U.S. off of fossil fuel reliance, push for methane pollution limits on existing gas and oil operations, and create deep incentives for reducing carbon emissions through electrification across sectors. President-elect Biden aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035.[3]

One of the pillars of President-elect Biden’s clean energy plan is decarbonization and a push towards electrification, resulting in an electricity system that is emissions-free by 2035.[4] To do this, electrification across the residential and industrial sectors would have to occur, along with growth in the wind and solar energy markets. Existing markets for other carbon-free energy, such as hydropower and nuclear, could be leveraged to help make the transition off of fossil fuels.[5]

Additional investment in infrastructure will help enable the grid to handle the projected increase in demand. Upgrades to infrastructure, including new technologies and solutions for energy storage and diversification, will help to ensure a successful and efficient transition to renewable energy.[6]

The Biden win has come with a renewed hope for fighting climate change as a nation and brings a promise for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy future in the U.S. However, as with any election, we must wait and see what happens over the next 4 years of the Biden presidency and demand that he keeps the climate forward promises made during the heat of election season. We owe it to ourselves and future generations worldwide to hold the Biden-Harris administration accountable for protecting our environment!

 

About the Author

 

Jessica Wright is a PhD candidate at Boston University studying urban infrastructure systems and renewable energy transition in cities.

Her research focuses in the Greater Boston area where she investigates the environmental consequences associated with aging natural gas infrastructure. She studies the intersections between green infrastructure and public health and hopes her research can help inform policy for more sustainable urban futures. She is also a guest writer for EnviroBites, a science communication blog dedicated to making environmental science accessible for all.

 

 

[1] GreenTech Media, Your Guide to the Clean Energy Implications of the 2020 Election, here

[2] The White House, Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord, here

[3] 9 Key Elements of Joe Biden’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, here

[4] 9 Key Elements of Joe Biden’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, here

[5] NS Energy, Five key takeaways from Joe Biden’s climate and clean energy plan, here

[6] NS Energy, Five key takeaways from Joe Biden’s climate and clean energy plan, here

 

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