Editor’s note: The op-ed below came into my inbox via EnergyPost’s weekly newsletter. Karel Beckman does tremendous work over there and is one of the absolute best energy journalists I’ve ever met. His questions to the energy world’s top actors and actresses are insanely incisive, insightful, and intellectually stimulating. With no surprise, I greatly appreciated reading the short newsletter intro below when I saw it fly in. Karel gave me permission to publish the op-ed here (image added by me), but as an extra thanks for Karel’s great work for humanity and this beautiful piece, I’m also including the pitch that follows regarding some of EnergyPost’s great premium and free editorials.
I once pursued my own American dream. As a young European student, in the early 1980s, I went to the United States thinking I would find a land of freedom, individual rights and generosity.
I realise now I was naïve in those days. America First has no doubt always been the idea behind US policy. Just as Russia First or China First or Europe First is the idea behind other countries’ policies.
But back then there was at least some sense that American interests were aligned with the interests of freedom-loving people everywhere. Some sense that international trade and exchange were of mutual benefit.
Today, the national interests of the US are opposed to the interests of people everywhere else – in the view of the new US president. Donald Trump does not even pretend to care about anyone else in the world.
Gone is the old liberal vision that open trade and exchange benefit all and promote peace.
We are now back in the days of mercantilism. Back in the days of the 1930s, when the protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (1930) wrecked the global economy, setting off a chain of protectionist policies everywhere, catapulting the world straight into World War Two, which was to no small extent a war over land, oil and natural resources.
With the new protectionism inevitably comes a feeling that the others, outside the walls, are alien, inferior, threatening creatures. It becomes a virtue to keep other people out, a vice to offer them refuge. How sad to think that the two countries that, whatever their failings, traditionally stood for liberty and openness now lead the world in narrow self-interest and bigotry.
I know this newsletter is supposed to be about energy. I apologise for this digression. There are more important things in the world than energy. Since I have this platform I wanted to speak out before another darkness descends on us.
The biggest danger about what is happening now is that people will start to regard the behaviour of a man like Trump as normal and acceptable. We are after all inclined to look up to the high office he occupies, the US Presidency. We have to keep reminding ourselves that it is not normal and not acceptable. Let’s just say I am reminding myself of this today.
I am glad to say that we have a lot of great articles for you this week.
On Energy Post Weekly, our subscription-based newsletter, three important stories from our EU correspondent Sonja van Renssen in Brussels. She sheds light on:
- What to expect in next week State of the Energy Union report
- The unique rejection by Member States of the European Commission’s renewal of Chinese solar import duties
- The deadlock between the European Commission and industry over biofuels
In my own Energy Watch section, I give my take on the following hot topics:
- Germany is finally confronting its coal problem
- The future of energy in Scotland
- The future of energy in Romania
- The International Energy Agency applauds Polish nuclear plans
- How a Brexit from Euratom could hurt the nascent UK nuclear industry
- The latest European offshore wind statistics
- The international reputation of the Energiewende
Note that you can read two articles for free on Energy Post Weekly before you are asked to subscribe, so if you have not checked it out yet, be our guest.
On our free Energy Post website also plenty of fascinating articles. This week it’s about:
- How the theft of refined oil products is threatening global economic and political stability
- Why Donald Trump may make his mark in the oil and gas sector, but will not be able to decide the future of the US electricity sector
- What a CO2 price floor could accomplish in Germany, if that country decides to follow the example of the UK and France
- The ongoing depoliticizaton of the European gas market (a remarkable achievement of EU energy policy)
- The precarious situation of the French power sector
- And whether we are entering the Age of Base-cost Renewables now that solar and wind are cheaper than fossil fuels
As always I hope you will enjoy our articles on Energy Post and Energy Post Weekly. Thanks for sharing them on social media, which is extremely valuable for us, even though we can’t always acknowledge this.
Coming up next week: a critical review of BP’s new Energy Outlook. And much more of course.
— Karel Beckman, editor in chief