Global renewables rise from the ashes of coal’s collapse

China surpassed the U.S. to become world’s largest renewable power producer last year, BP reports.

While President Donald Trump touts a new coal mine that provides fewer jobs than a typical supermarket, the world is switching off coal at a stunning pace to create millions of new clean energy jobs.

World coal production had its biggest drop ever last year, 230 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe), BP reported Tuesday in its 2017 Statistical Review of World Energy. China led the way with a 7.9 percent decline in coal production (140 mtoe), followed by the U.S. with a 19 percent drop (85 mtoe).

And while Trump is proposing to gut clean energy funding by a staggering 70 percent, the world saw the largest jump ever in renewable power production last year. Of particular note among BP’s findings regarding renewable energy: For the first time, China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest producer of non-hydro renewables.

“The fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past,” BP’s chief economist Spencer Dale said Tuesday. The report explains “this shift largely reflects structural factors” — the remarkable growth of cheap natural gas and renewables — “combined with government and societal pressure to shift towards cleaner, lower carbon fuels.”

Trump’s bet against this global structural trend is literally tilting at windmills.

Clean energy is the world’s biggest sustainable source of new high-wage jobs. No wonder China is making a $360 billion bet on renewables by 2020 — they calculate the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.”


Meanwhile, Trump has been touting the opening of the new Acosta mine in Pennsylvania that he had “nothing” to do with, as explained. The mine got its permits in 2013, and development “began in September,” months before Trump was even elected. While Trump calls it “a big coal mine,” the BBC explains it is “a 120-foot-deep rectangle gouged out” of a hillside.

Bottom line: While the Chinese are investing hundreds of billions now to create millions of new jobs, Trump is hyping a past that no longer exists, replacing real investment in the future with his trademark hyperbole. Too bad his hot air cannot create jobs.