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When you think about the future of the US, does the use of dirty fossil fuels such as oil and coal come to mind? No? I didn’t think so, yet here we are in the year 2020, and the United States still has a strong reliance on fossil fuels.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the consumption of fossil fuels grew by 4% in 2018 and accounted for 80% of US energy consumption.
That’s pretty bad considering that America is a world leader in science and technology. It’s bizarre how far behind the country is when it comes to using clean, renewable energy.
It’s time for the US to end its romance with fossil fuels.
Whether you believe in climate change or not, the pollution created by fossil fuels is extremely harmful to our environment. If we continue to depend on dirty energy, the consequences can result in irreversible environmental damage.
Ending the United States Reliance on Fossil Fuels
Fortunately, there are solutions that can help reduce the United States dependence on fossil fuels. It doesn’t mean we all need to turn into green peace activists or stop living a normal life either.
Making changes on how we produce our energy, how much of it we use, and how taxpayer money is allocated can help decrease the use of fossil fuels in the US.
Renewable energy is an exciting and innovative solution. Not only does clean energy help protect our environment and wildlife, but it creates economic opportunities as well.
To weaken the reliance on fossil fuels, the US should end fossil fuel subsidies, invest more in renewables, and increase energy efficiency for both businesses and individuals.
Let’s review these solutions in more detail and look into why they would help shift the US away from dirty energy.
Taxpayers Paying to Keep Big Oil Alive
According to research conducted by the International Monetary Fund, the US government spent an estimated $649 billion on fossil fuel subsidiaries in 2017. The government continues to spend billions of taxpayer money every year, propping up fossil fuel companies.
If these subsidiaries were to come to an end, the money could instead be invested in solar, wind, and research and development of clean energy sources.
There is no good reason for fossil fuel companies to be spoon-fed by the government. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is taking steps in the wrong direction and encouraging more subsidies for fossil fuels.
Authors from the National Resources Defense Council Han Chen and Danielle Droitsch (2018) wrote: “The new US policy is to push these multilateral financial institutions to finance more fossil fuel production and consumption in developing countries, a move that’s not only harmful to local communities and health but to global climate goals.”
In the long run, it will be in the best interest of the US to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies. It will diminish support for dirty energy and free up funds that can be used to invest in renewables.
Even countries like India have cut their fuel subsidies more than once to make better use of public funds. And in the US, there are much better uses for these funds.
Cutting the funding of fossil fuel companies and supporting green energy instead is a no brainer.
Shifting to Renewable Energy
Investing more in renewable energy is a crucial part of decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. If there are no clean energy resources to use, the US will simply continue to consume dirty energy.
The energy needs of the US are massive; it will take a lot of time and funding to shift away from fossil fuels. By reducing the funding for oil, gas, and coal companies, the US can step up its support for renewables.
China invested over 25 billion more in clean energy than the US did in 2019. China is one of the worst offenders of environmental pollution, yet they’re projected to be a world leader in renewable energy production.
The country vowed to peak carbon emission by 2030 and is targeting renewables to account for 35 percent of its energy consumption.
Authors from the London School of Economics and Political Science Green, Fergus and Stern, Nicholas (2016) found: “China is currently undergoing another major structural transformation — towards a new development model focused on achieving better quality growth that is more sustainable and inclusive.”
China’s commitment to renewable energy has been a big surprise to the rest of the world. Time will tell if they are speaking truthfully about their commitments.
The United States is definitely capable of becoming a world leader in green energy. Investing more in the production of renewable energy is an essential and necessary step to get us there.
Increasing energy efficiency in corporations and homes will help reduce the Unites States’ overall consumption and dependency on fossil fuels. This can be done by increasing the amount of funding for energy-efficient technology as well as the implementation of energy efficiency policies.
In an EPA guide for Quantifying the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy authors Bollerud et al. (2018) provided insight that: “Energy efficiency and renewable energy policies can reduce the demand for and supply of energy generated from fossil fuels (e.g., natural gas, oil, and coal-fired power plants).”
Energy efficiency policies are smart investments that can help businesses and individuals save money.
US policies should encourage the construction of energy-efficient buildings and the use of more energy-efficient appliances.
The energy savings will allow the United States to shut down more coal and oil power plants, thus lessening our dependence on fossil fuels.
Stretching the use of the electricity we already generate is a simple and effective way for the US to cut back on its dirty energy habit.
Coronavirus Oil Shock
COVID-19 has temporarily put the world on lockdown and drained all the demand for oil. The lack of demand caused the price of crude oil to plummet like never before.
Once the world economy reopens, the high demand for oil will resume, but shouldn’t we instead be thinking of alternatives?
Governments should not bail out the oil industry and weaken world currencies any further. It is time for a change.
The romance between the US and fossil fuels will only end if big changes are made. There will be some downsides like oil companies going out of business and people losing their jobs.
But at the same time, new jobs will be created in the renewable energy sector. And a new expansion of economic opportunities will develop.
The transitional pains of changing our current energy infrastructure could be why it’s taking so long for the US to get with it. Some say that time is running out, and the sooner we put an end to our reliance on fossil fuels, the better.
If we continue to be stubborn, it will lead to further problems down the road that younger generations will be forced to deal with.
Cutting off the fossil fuel subsidies will get rid of the cushion that’s keeping dirty energy alive. It will allow us to allocate those funds in better alternatives like green energy.
Investing more in clean energy production will provide resources for the US to make the shift to renewables.
Increasing the overall energy efficiency of the US will reduce our energy demand and lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. T
he US has started to break-up with fossil fuels, but because they’ve been together for so long, the break-up process will be drawn-out and difficult.