We know there will be a US presidential election this year. What we do not know with any certainty yet, is who will win.
This makes it harder than usual to predict the future direction of policy. And right now, one of the most talked about areas of all is the green transition.
Especially now that investment is increasing so much under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). But the worry for some is a Republican victory could damage America’s ongoing fight against climate change.
Despite the party’s historic climate change scepticism, we don’t think this will be the case. Instead, we expect investment into the green transition to expand over the next presidential term regardless of who emerges victorious.
The conversation around the green transition has shifted in the past couple of years.
It was primarily about climate security. And as we know, this is not something Republicans have historically been sold on. Just in November, a poll found that only 16% of Republicans polled regarded climate change as a critical threat. That compared to more than 80% of Democrats.
What’s different today is that the green transition is also discussed in terms of how it provides energy security to Americans.
Energy costs have soared in the US since the end of the pandemic as a result of inflationary pressures and clean energy can help to reduce these costs by providing energy from sources that never run out while increasing America’s energy independence.
It means Republicans and Democrats are now often united in their support for the green transition. They may have very different motivations, but this is arguably of little consequence when it comes to the question of whether or not green investment will continue to accelerate following this year’s election.
A more specific reason for Republicans to favour the green transition is its positive impact on traditionally red states.
For one thing, many lie in the US “wind belt”. As a result, they dominate the list of states ranked by the share of electricity they generate from wind power. This can be seen below.
US states: Share of electricity generation from wind
Perhaps more surprisingly, many of the same states are also ranked highly when it comes to the electricity they generate from solar power. Indeed, while California may dominate right now, as the chart below shows, three out of the top five are red states.
US states: Electricity from solar PV
Feelings towards climate change aside, the green transition is clearly acting as a force of reindustrialisation in these states. Wind and solar energy are creating jobs and boosting the economy, and that is unlikely to be something local voters will oppose.
Not just that, but this support is only likely to grow further from here.
According to White House figures, red states will attract some $337bn in investments for large solar, wind, and storage projects through the end of the decade from the IRA. Texas alone is expected to receive $67bn .
States led by Democrats, in comparison, are set to draw just $183bn.
To assume a Republican victory in this year’s presidential election would stifle US climate investment is therefore to simplify matters considerably.
The green transition no longer comes down to one’s attitude towards climate change alone. It now incorporates attitudes towards energy security and the positive impact non-renewable energy is having (and will continue to have) on local economies.
In this respect, there’s little for anyone to oppose the green transition’s continued acceleration – regardless of whether they are a Republican or a Democrat.