"The renewable energy sector is the real winner of the US election"
By Ignite Investments Partner, Yariv Cohen; Published on The New Times
In the past couple of weeks, we saw the “grand finale” of one of the most dramatic and thrilling election campaigns in history. The entire world followed every update coming from the United States, and only after several days full of tension and speculation, arrived the official announcement of Joe Biden’s victory, who would become the next president of the United States (unless Trump’s legal battles would change the outcome).
The announcement of Biden’s victory gave the signal to millions of his supporters, who went out to the streets of the US to celebrate. In business, there is one sector that can also celebrate the triumph: the renewable energy sector, which is expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Biden’s election to the presidency.
One of the most prominent features of the 2020 election campaign was the tremendous polarization between the candidates’ opinions, with Trump and Biden appearing to have not only different views, but unprecedented contradicted opinions, beliefs, and values. There is no doubt that Biden will lead completely different policies from the one Trump has pursued in the last 4 years in almost every possible area, from the economy and foreign policy to public health (especially in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic). But if there is one area that highlights how different Biden’s administration is about to be, it is the environmental field, and the renewable energy sector around the world can be announced as the big winner of the US election.
Climate Change? What Climate Change?
Being an international powerhouse, the identity of the American President has far-reaching influence, far beyond the borders of the US. Every saying (or tweet) is instantly cited, and every action and decision brings an impact on a tremendous scale. Therefore, the extent of Donald Trump’s influence on the renewable energy sector worldwide over the last 4 years should not be underestimated. The official withdrawal from the Paris Agreements (which will only officially start in the coming days), budget cuts, uncompromising support for the (especially polluting) American shell oil industry; all reflected firm support for the industry sector, without any environmental concerns.
Trump put various American polluting industries in first place, and the environment was left far behind. One of his major doings throughout his 4 years in office was to roll back Obama’s environmental regulations, and nearly 70 environmental rules and regulations were lifted, with 30 additional rollbacks still in progress.
But all of these were only secondary to the truly significant damage. Trump’s continuous disregard of scientists and researchers’ warnings about global warming and the acute climate crisis led millions of people throughout the world to do the same, underestimating the gravity of the situation, effectively preventing the public discourse from developing and growing.
Now, all of this is likely to change, and fast. Biden presents not only a completely opposite approach, but also promises of real action, and on a huge scale: on July, he published a comprehensive action plan with a total cost of no less than $ 2 trillion, aiming at reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions in the US, while creating tens of thousands of jobs in the emerging field.
The ambitious program is excellent news for the entire sector, far beyond the borders of the United States. First, as I have written before, in the hyper-connected world we live in, what happens in one country (and especially in a super-industrial nation like the United States) has a far-reaching effect on life across the planet. Second, a significant portion of the huge budgets should be invested in R&D; Allocating resources and encouraging American scientists and innovators to operate in the field of renewable energy is most likely to lead to exciting developments and breakthroughs that will lead the entire field forward.
But there’s more: Biden is expected to support global cooperation, and to stop ignoring what is happening outside to US borders (as part of President Trump’s America First policy). And, of course, glittering infrastructure projects in a country with tremendous energy consumption like the United States will prove to the entire world that a transition to complete reliance on renewable energy is possible, and I believe that in the coming years we will also see how efficient and cost-effective this transition is.
But above all stands, once again, the public awareness and perception of the situation. By recognizing the climate crisis and taking the dangers it poses seriously, the United States will be able to lead the whole world to take more determined and substantial action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lead humanity to a more sustainable future. In retrospect, I hope that the renewable energy sector will be declared the big winner of the 2020 US election, and with it, the entire planet.