Despite Donald Trump’s insistence that climate change is a hoax, nations with more intelligent leaders are still buckling down. François Hollande, the French President, stood in front of delegate at the UN’s annual climate change meeting and promised that France will have no coal-powered power plants by 2023.
Before I get too far into this, I’d like to make something clear. I’m not a hemp-wearing, flower-encrusted hippie, dancing around holding hands with other hemp-wearing, flower-encrusted hippies, singing about Mother Earth. I worked in the oil patch for a decade, used to cut down trees for a living, and drive a truck. I fly a lot. I have a lot of surfboards. My carbon footprint is large. I do little things, though–I rarely buy anything plastic, and I only drive that gasoline-powered truck more than 10 miles twice a week, and I recycle pretty much everything–but still. I could do more, just like everyone else. I could do much more if there were other options available, but there aren’t. I know we are dependent on dirty energy. There’s an argument that people make that I absolutely can’t stand: “If you don’t like it, stop using it.” Meaning, of course, stop living life normally. Stop driving, stop using electricity, etc. No one wants that–what they want is simply different options. The way we live is fucking terrible for the environment. Ignore everything else–all the politics, all the money–and think about it for a second. Vomiting out shitloads of carbon dioxide is bad. We do that. There are other options that we could be using, but we’re not. In fact, as per Trump’s words, we’re not even LOOKING for other options. You can read a longer rant about Donald Trump and the environment here. Ok, back to France.
The UN’s annual climate change meeting last week took place in Marrakech, Morocco. It’s the same meeting that spawned that Paris agreement last year–an agreement, by the way, Trump said he would back out of while calling for more drilling and fewer regulations. “Any regulation that’s outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped and scrapped completely,” he said before spouting off a ridiculous sentence. “We’re going to do all this while taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns.” In saying those last few words, he basically called the rest of the world irrational and Myron Ebell, the crazy motherfucker he put in charge of the EPA, rational. Trump’s definition of “national interest” apparently doesn’t include a healthy environment, which should concern you if you like to surf or are a human being.
France is pretty much leading the way when it comes to using less carbon. According to World Nuclear, more than 75% of its electricity come from nuclear fission. They make so much power that they sell the excess to other countries for a paltry little sum of about $3.2 billion a year. They did something back in 1974 was smart: they looked towards the future, like the US needs to do right now. Just after the first oil shock, they made a decision to change their system. Now, a few decades later, they have one of the lowest per capita levels of CO2 emissions, the lowest cost of electricity in all of Europe, and 90% percent of their electricity comes from nuclear or hydro. It’s possible. There are other options. France is proof.
— COP22 (@COP22) November 15, 2016
Coal is not the future. It’s filthy and, as other nations are wising up to the reality, becoming more and more unnecessary. “Fortunately, global use of coal is dropping quite rapidly for a variety of reasons,” wrote Robin Andrews on IFL. “Including the fact that renewable energy is getting cheaper and more commonplace, and that the damage coal is doing to the world is becoming too much of a burden to bear, both economically and environmentally.” Under a Trump presidency, the US is going to head back to the dark ages while the rest of the world heads off into the future.
While France promised to shut down coal-powered energy plants by 2023, Germany plans on cutting greenhouse gas emission by up to 95% by 2050, and the UK is shutting down coal-powered plants by 2025. The US, though, is apparently doubling down on dwindling, awful energy sources instead of investing in the future, leaving citizens with no other choices.
Nearly every other powerful nation is getting greener. They’re looking forward to the future, investing in new ways to power our lives. They’re doing it slowly, listening to researchers, finding solutions, and phasing out dirty energy while creating different jobs. Trump, meanwhile, wants to shovel coal onto a smoldering fire, and the rest of the world is looking for a fire extinguisher.