The US presidential elections represent an important cornerstone for both US and global energy policies. The continuation of current policies aimed at the low carbon energy transition should not be taken for granted.
Energy and the US election
US energy policy plays a leading role in developments such as climate change mitigation, the shale gas revolution and investment in research and development of alternative energy sources and technologies. All of these are central in determining the speed and direction of the low-carbon energy transition. As such, the US energy agenda is crucial to shaping not only domestic energy systems but also international ones.
The forthcoming US elections therefore represent a pivotal moment for energy policy, not just for the US but also globally. The outcome will have implications for the Clean Power Plan, the future of renewable energy provision, support for conventional and unconventional fossil fuels, and energy security, among many other factors, which could alter the course of the energy transition for decades to come.
In preparation for the new presidency, this Focus presents discussions of the possible evolution of US energy policy and the strategic role the US might play in the global context, depending on the result. The pieces offered provide analyses of the possible energy programmes of the two main presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Focus also explores the implications of these energy policies for the major supply countries and their wider influence on energy policymaking and security around the world.
Hillary Clinton's campaign has stressed her continuity with Obama's energy policy on key aspects such as decarbonization of the US economy, technological innovation and global cooperation. However, policy reforms to deliver long-term climate goals might be out of reach in a highly divided Congress.
In terms of energy policy, the Trump presidential campaign is largely aligned with mainstream Republican positions, evoking independence and deregulation. However, Trump's rhetoric and personality might inject uncertainties into long-term energy policies, increasing the risk inherent in energy related businesses.
The US plays a key role in shoring up European energy security and this is unlikely to change dramatically after the November 2016 elections. However, the outcome could compound longer term risks to an internationally engaged US energy policy, affecting European energy security and diplomacy.
Technology breakthroughs will tilt the long-term balance between oil demand and the resource base of oil and gas. According to Amy Myers Jaffe, energy markets will be characterized by the growing tension between low carbon efforts led by the US and the strategies of large oil exporting countries.