No one can stop the sustainable bioeconomy revolution. Neither the President of the United States, Donald Trump, nor the strong conservatisms that are hiding in that part of the political and industrial class concerned only to defend their rents.
We are convinced that change is in place. It is a real structural change of economic and social paradigm, which is now attracting significantly the flow of large financial investments.
Of course, resistance to change is always very strong and is based on the power accumulated over the years by big corporations. Machiavelli also taught us: “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”
Innovation may not be good for everyone. But data say that coal-fired electricity in the United States was 33% in 2015, down from 50.5% in 2005. The main reason is in the abundance of shale gas reserves at lower prices and more affordable renewable sources in economic terms. Their cost has dropped significantly in recent years, and the largest emitter of CO2 – and oil refiner – in the United States, Texas, has become the national leader in wind power production. In 2016, natural gas has surpassed coal as a major source of electricity generation. Coal production has reached its minimum in the last 35 years and loses its jobs: from 186,000 in 1985 to 98,000 in 2015.
The strong impetus that renewable sources have had is certainly not reversible. A recent US study reveals that jobs in clean energy are five times higher than those in coal and gas, and that forty-one states have more jobs in clean energy than in fossil fuels. There is thus a contrast between states such as California and the “carboniferous” countries. In 2015, the largest coal producers were Wyoming (42%), West Virginia (11%), Kentucky (7%), Illinois (6%) and Pennsylvania (6 %).
A report released last October by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that in 2014, the biobased products industry contributed 393 billion dollars and 4.2 million jobs to America’s recovering economy. The report also indicates that the sector grew from 2013 to 2014, creating or supporting an additional 220,000 jobs and 24 billion dollars over that period. The shift to a sustainable bioeconomy is irreversible.
by Felice Amori