Market forces may thwart Trump's support of coal industry: analyst
Nick Wells, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, March 28, 2017 8:30PM EDT
Despite U.S. President Donald Trump's vow to open more coal mines and roll back aspects of former president Barack Obama's initiatives to fight climate change, a Canadian non-profit institute says market forces may work against the 45th president.
Trump's executive order seeks to suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production in the form of fossil fuels.
The new U.S. administration is also lifting a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands.
Despite Trump's accusation that Obama waged a "war on coal," analysts say that realistically the market has been coal's biggest enemy.
"Market forces are killing coal. Natural gas prices have plummeted, renewable energy production -- whether it be solar or wind -- are now cost competitive in some states, even more competitive than coal," said Amin Asadollahi, the International Institute for Sustainable Development's lead for climate change mitigation for North America. "Market forces are just working against coal."
Asadollahi says Trump's pledge to pull away from previous climate change agreements, such as the Paris Agreement -- an agreement to combat greenhouse gases negotiated by 195 countries -- could be scuppered by states and cities.
States in New England have an agreement with Quebec and Atlantic provinces to hit certain target levels in combating climate change.
California, he says, has set itself on a collision course with Washington over its goals of combating climate change.
"Sub-national leadership could essentially dictate what the U.S. could do," he said.
The governors of California and New York have issued a joint statement saying they will continue to "aggressively fight climate change and protect our future."
Despite the concern of the new executive order, Asadollahi hopes the U.S. rollback of climate change legislation leads to countries like Canada stepping up to do more.
Canada has pledged to cut methane emissions -- a greenhouse gas considered about 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide -- by 40 to 45 per cent by 2025.
"Let's look at what Canada can do," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press