Energy is one of the driving forces behind economic development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It plays a significant role in mitigating climate change, and its recognition in society is critical. However, there is a serious disconnect between agreed energy and climate targets and the currently used approaches. This conflict suggests the need for a solution that would satisfy both sides, and the consideration of the problem in various aspects will contribute to revealing possible ways to find a compromise. Since environmental concerns and economic benefits go hand in hand, it is vital to address all spheres of their mutual influence. Hence, the development of a national strategy, the use of alternative energy, and participation in the innovative industry will help to decrease harm to the environment and lessen the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels.
Significance of the Problem
The escalation of the problem with fossil fuels started several years ago with the political decisions of the United States and China, and their actions highlight the importance of the issue. These two largest economies with the most significant global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions announced their accession to the Paris Agreement (Geri & McNabb, 2017). Naturally, the U.S. withdrawal announced by President Trump on June 1, 2017, attracted close attention to the U.S. energy policy, which is in dire need of reducing dependence on fossil fuels (Geri & McNabb, 2017). Their decisions received much resonance in the world and worsened the situation from the perspective of environmentalists.
Another factor that increased the concerns about the production of fossil fuels is climate change as one of the principal challenges of the present-day world. Since it is one of the imperatives of sustainable development agenda, the emphasis is on preventing complications in this area. If these trends continue, with the current share of fossil fuels remaining and electricity demand nearly doubling by 2050. In that case, emissions will exceed the carbon limit allowed by limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (Schirone & Pellitteri, 2017). In this way, the level of emissions would be disastrous for the planet (Ladislaw & Barnett, 2019). This consideration adds to the necessity to re-orientate the country’s policies regarding environmental protection.
The situation with oil is especially critical in the United States since the country is one of the leaders in the field. Domestic production provides about half of the crude oil required, including conventional oil, various condensates, and shale oil (Geri & McNabb, 2017). Over the past ten years, the country has consistently ranked among the top three world oil producers, periodically occupying first place in these three. Moreover, crude oil production in the United States has significantly grown due to increased efficiency from the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies (Geri & McNabb, 2017). This circumstance defines a predominant influence of the country on the global environment.
However, oil production in the United States is not the only sphere that poses a threat to the world, and it is complemented by the production of shale natural gas. Due to the “shale revolution,” the country has become its largest producer in the world. This situation consequently led to a drop in prices for this energy carrier and its availability. The result of the shale revolution is the fact that the share of shale gas in the total national natural gas production in the United States has reached 40% (Ladislaw & Barnett, 2019). The advantage of shale gas production, in contrast to the largest conventional fields, is its proximity to consumption centers. Thus, it indicates even a greater likelihood of its development compared to oil production and, therefore, a bigger threat.
Solution to the Problem
Since the principal factor contributing to the worsening of the environmental conditions is the support of gas and oil production by the government, the solution to the problem should start with the change in policies. The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement showed that the U.S. President’s administration deliberately undermines global efforts to save humanity from global climate change and discourages the formation of balanced national energy policy (Ladislaw & Barnett, 2019). The rise to power of President Trump has fundamentally changed the face of Washington’s energy policy. He placed political goals above the needs of the world’s population, and this fact triggered the conflict. Hence, to compensate for the shift, they should consider developing a comprehensive national strategy for the environment.
At present, there are many opportunities to reduce emissions in the energy sector. The most significant among them are reducing energy consumption and the industry’s carbon intensity by using other sources of energy and controlling CO2 emissions (Schirone & Pellitteri, 2017). Specific steps in this direction are already being taken in the leading countries, in particular, in the USA. Over the past 10-15 years, the latter’s energy policy has undergone significant changes since structural shifts have been outlined in many energy sectors. Improving energy efficiency has helped curb rising energy consumption in the United States. However, oil continues to be a key source of energy, and transition to other energy sources is needed.
The presidential administration cannot resist the rapid development of new technologies. Nevertheless, it is still oriented on domestic reserves of fossil fuels. The achievement of energy independence from oil and gas through the focus on renewable resources seems to be the optimal solution, but the government is still hindering it. Their current measures for improving energy efficiency in the United States do not reflect the needs of the time. Thus, in April 2019, the USA’s total installed renewable energy capacity exceeded the capacity of coal-fired power plants for the first time (Motyka, 2019). Hence, the protection of the country’s sovereignty and national security should be performed considering the world trends rather than the old ways.
Another measure that will allow solving the problem of oil and gas production in the country and the dependence on it is the shift from coal-fired power plants to alternative power plants. It is gradually happening, but the support of the government is needed to promote renewable energy use. Since 2018, no new coal-fired power plants have been built in the United States, and this is despite the position of Donald Trump, who called for the revival of coal energy (Motyka, 2019). This fact leads to the conclusion that state governments should ignore federal directives and foster the development of alternative energies on their own. Therefore, the solution to the problem would be becoming part of an emerging innovative industry.
The use of alternative energy sources and the construction of renewable energy plants all over the world determine the trends of countries’ further economic development. However, the United States’ policies contradict the world trends thereby undermining the efforts of governments to establish the balance between environment and profits and hindering their own progress. In order to solve this problem, the country should consider the creation of a national strategy once it does not support the Paris Agreement, perform the transition to alternative energy and promote its use on a state level. In this way, the United States will ensure national security and independence from other governments in the long run and comply with the needs of the world.