As recent hurricanes have devastated parts of the Caribbean and hit the southern states of the US, questions are once again being asked about the Trump-administration's views on climate change. With sea temperatures warmer than usual in the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had already predicted that the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially runs from 1 June until 30 November, would be ‘above average’ with their estimate being a total of 19 storms, with 9 of them hurricanes. The average is 11 storms and 6 hurricanes. However, even with the predictions, one doubts that after a period of 12 years since none of the largest storms made landfall in the US, 2 of the biggest ever hurricanes would hit in a matter of days, with maybe a third, Jose on the horizon.
Predictably, even in the face of these storms US environmental chief Scott Pruitt has said now is not the time to discuss climate change. Pruitt told CNN ‘To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced’. However with the evidence and pressure mounting, both from within the US and globally, hopes are that Trump will start to take climate change more seriously. The United States Environmental Protection Agency have stated that the decade between 2006–2015 was the warmest on record, since thermometer-based observations began; 2015 was the warmest year worldwide.
Earlier this year Trump famously pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, stating ‘a reassertion of America’s sovereignty’, adding that he was ‘elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris’. Trump had tried to change the terms of the agreement, however was told in no uncertain that agreement could not be renegotiated. The US is the second-largest emitter of carbon behind China, however, as we have written before, China is pouring vast sums of money into renewable energy in a bid to not only catch up but become a world leader in the field. Also, over the weekend reports suggested that the Chinese government is looking to ban the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles in the next couple decades. Honda also announced, on Sunday, that it is developing an electric car for the Chinese market (only), expected to launch next year.
Here in the UK there was a boost for renewable energy; it was announced this morning that future offshore wind farms will be built for a record low price. The price that windfarms wanted as a guaranteed minimum price for producing electricity was expected to be between £70 and £80 per megawatt hour (MWh). However it has been announced that two wind farms will be built offshore in 2022-23 for just £57.50 per MWh. The price is a massive 50% of what new offshore wind farms were being awarded just two years ago and 38% lower than the price guaranteed for electricity from the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Unlike Hinkley Point, offshore wind farm developers have to compete in a reserve auction for the lowest guaranteed price. According to Richard Harrington, the energy minister, the subsidies, which are paid for by the consumers via their energy bills, will bring on line enough clean energy to supply 3.6 million homes as well as create thousands of new jobs in the renewable industry.