Time for the US to move on from coal


MANDEL NGAN | AFP | Getty Images

Supporters of President Donald Trump attend a political rally at Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia, on August 21, 2018. 

“The facts are the facts and people come and go, so we need to just go by the facts and get something done. So in the short term, it is about gas for coal, with some renewable energies on the side,” the CEO said, adding that steps taken in this direction would lead to “a better world.”

Coal, considered the dirtiest fossil fuel, was the second-largest source of U.S. electricity generation in 2017 at about 30 percent of the energy mix, according to the Energy Information Agency. Trump has made reviving the U.S. coal industry one of the cornerstones of his presidency, and critics accuse him of dismantling the previous administration’s efforts on green energy legislation, particularly after his 2017 withdrawal from the COP21 Paris accord.

The EIA also reports that the three major fossil fuels — petroleum, natural gas and coal — accounted for about 77 percent of primary energy production in the U.S. in 2017.

But al-Mazrouei was optimistic that the tide was turning in the U.S., emphasizing that the world’s largest economy is an ally, and as the largest producer and consumer of oil today, played a major role in the future of global energy.

“We don’t look at it as a political issue … We look at whatever the U.S. had to say, and we weigh it toward the overall challenges of energy,” the minister said, pointing to California’s push ahead in renewables as a positive example. He added that in the U.S., trends were pointing toward increased use of natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels.

But what strikes al-Mazrouei as the most important development in energy use is the fact that renewable energy is becoming cheaper. “It’s not just something governments have to support for it to succeed. It’s a natural choice,” he said, adding that the key remaining challenge is availability, and making power generation cheaper and more efficient.

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