Energy To Be Front And Center For Decision 2016

on July 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

US Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks to r

Hilary Clinton’s speech on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa in which she outlined an energy agenda that plans to generate 33% of the United States electricity from renewables reinforced the importance of energy in the 2016 election. The contrasting view between Republican candidates and Clinton on climate change underscores the partisan nature of the climate debate that could ultimately decide the election. Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, whose family maintains close links to the oil industry and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are staunch proponents of Big Oil and underplay the significance of a climate threat. The pair continue to use the favoured conservative rhetoric of fossil fuel’s importance to the domestic and international economy, veiling the influence of the major oil and gas companies on their reasoning.

Conversely, Hilary and her campaign team see climate change as a potential winning platform on the back of Obama’s climate initiatives. The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this coming December will be used by world leaders to initiate a cohesive global effort to stem the tide of climate change, emphasising the need for the private sector to adapt its practices under severely required government regulation – a policy Hilary Clinton will hope to implement if elected.

A Republican victory could see a complete disregard for any mandate set out in Paris, while inscribing a domestic shift away from renewable energy industries, severely reducing the role of the EPA whilst lending the White House’s ear to the captains of Big Oil. Republican candidates have already pledged to shed Obama’s clean energy legacy if elected and dismantle the nuclear deal with Iran. House members from oil friendly states across both aisles are currently pushing for a lift to the Crude Export Ban given the vast increase in domestic production following the shale boom. However, the recent slump in global oil prices has reinforced the volatility and risk associated with heavy hydrocarbon investment – a risk Republicans are surely willing to take given their loyalty to Big Oil, not to mention their reliance on these companies for political contributions.

The result of the 2016 election may well determine the fate of renewable energy and fossil fuel industries in one fell swoop given the stance of the respective candidates. Prevailing long-term issues over the direction of offshore and pipeline development for oil and gas production will be a key focus for the candidates as they battle in the swing states of North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia .

Given the United States leading position in world politics, a shift away from fossil fuel divestment will stall any global effort to significantly reduce the effects of climate change. The consequences on American politics from this upcoming election will be truly profound – with global industry, finance and geopolitics being dictated by a U.S. energy policy that will either acknowledge or disregard the looming threat of climate change.