In this episode of Intersections, Bruce Jones and David Victor, co-chairs of the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate, examine the likely future of U.S. energy and climate policies under the Trump administration, the role of state-level actors and energy markets, and what happens if the U.S. walks away from the Paris agreement.
Jones explains that the Paris agreement need not fall apart without U.S. involvement: “If the United States at this juncture were to walk away from Paris, it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen, which is that Beijing will say ‘fine, we’ll lead.’ And the rest of the world will follow, because the rest of the world is convinced of this pathway, and is making investments in this pathway, and they don’t want to see it eroded. China is now the world’s largest emitter, it’s a huge market, it has the bandwidth to do this in diplomatic and scientific terms, so it’s not going to be the case that if the U.S. walks away that the mechanism will collapse. What will happen is that the mechanism will continue and the U.S. will not be a leader; China will lead.”
And Victor speculates about where energy policy might be forward-looking: “One of the real wild cards is how much spending will take place for energy innovation. We could see a small budget administration, which cuts spending on innovation way back – that seems like the most likely outcome – but when we look at past Republican administrations, and the bipartisan support for energy innovation, it’s actually quite plausible that we’ll see an expansion of spending on innovation. I think there’s a huge amount of uncertainty in that part of the energy equation that [the Department of Energy] has a big impact on.”
With thanks to audio producer Gaston Reboredo, Vanessa Sauter, Fred Dews, and Richard Fawal.
Intersections is part of the Brookings Podcast Network.