As it turns out, several things have been happening in the US that, regardless of government policy, would have likely happened anyway. Renewable energy is so cheap to install and use these days that it has proliferated across the country. In much of America, wind power is cheaper than any fossil fuel source, including natural gas.
As the report points out, renewable energy now makes up 22 percent of the total US energy mix, a massive increase from 2005 levels.
Renewables are also rapidly becoming commonplace in places like the EU and China. Their spread is so strikingly fast that some estimates suggest that coal will be completely phased out by 2050.
Add into this things like the Paris agreement and the fact that even corporations like Shell are abandoning oil drilling in parts of the world, well it turns out that emissions are being cut within the US by default, so to speak.
The way energy is being used has also made a significant difference. “American energy productivity has increased by 10 percent from 2011 to 2016,” the report highlights, adding that "in 2016, consumers devoted less than 4 percent of their total annual household spending to energy, the smallest share ever recorded.”
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In short, the way we use energy is now both more efficient and conservative than ever before. This means we’re using less energy per day, which ultimately produces less greenhouse gas emissions.
Yes, there is a danger that, with Trump’s plans to resurrect oil pipelines and dig up more coal, this trend will slow down. However, it’s not likely to be reversible, and that’s the key point. Obama, before he left office, declared the clean energy revolution to be irreversible despite Trump.
Looks like he was right all along.