Donald Trump has chosen a champion of fossil fuels to run the federal government’s renewable energy office.
Daniel Simmons will be the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s acting assistant secretary, according to a memo obtained by E&E News.
The appointment is the latest in a string of appointments of climate science deniers and people with links to fossil fuel companies to key positions in the administration.
Despite evidence that wind and solar power are now either cheaper than fossil fuels or on track to be so within a few years, Mr Simmons has repeatedly criticised renewable energy for being more expensive than oil or gas.
“We have to look at the track record of the oil and gas industry [which is] producing low-cost, reliable energy, particularly when the alternative is much, much higher prices,” he told an energy forum.
In a podcast for the libertarian think tank the Heartland Institute in 2013, he said: “The most simple of all points is that no matter what the renewable guys say, what they will admit is that their type of power — the wind and solar — is more expensive and will increase the price of electricity.
“And in an economy that is struggling, it is critical that we do everything we can to keep prices low.”
And, giving evidence to Congress in July last year about federal support for the Ivanpah solar power plant, which is sponsored by Google and other firms, Mr Simmons said: “It is unseemly that the American taxpayer has contributed billions of dollars to these facilities.”
He will be the renewable energy office’s principal deputy assistant secretary, but will act as assistant secretary until one is appointed by Mr Trump and approved by Congress.
The office has a $2 billion budget to help research into renewable energy research, but the President has proposed that this should be cut by 53 per cent next year.
A group of emperor penguins face a crack in the sea ice, near McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Amid a flood in Islampur, Jamalpur, Bangladesh, a woman on a raft searches for somewhere dry to take shelter. Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to sea level rise, which is expected to make tens of millions of people homeless by 2050.
Hanna Petursdottir examines a cave inside the Svinafellsjokull glacier in Iceland, which she said had been growing rapidly. Since 2000, the size of glaciers on Iceland has reduced by 12 per cent.
Floods destroyed eight bridges and ruined crops such as wheat, maize and peas in the Karimabad valley in northern Pakistan, a mountainous region with many glaciers. In many parts of the world, glaciers have been in retreat, creating dangerously large lakes that can cause devastating flooding when the banks break. Climate change can also increase rainfall in some areas, while bringing drought to others.
Smoke – filled with the carbon that is driving climate change – drifts across a field in Colombia.
A river once flowed along the depression in the dry earth of this part of Bangladesh, but it has disappeared amid rising temperatures.
Sindh province in Pakistan has experienced a grim mix of two consequences of climate change. “Because of climate change either we have floods or not enough water to irrigate our crop and feed our animals,” says the photographer. “Picture clearly indicates that the extreme drought makes wide cracks in clay. Crops are very difficult to grow.”
A shepherd moves his herd as he looks for green pasture near the village of Sirohi in Rajasthan, northern India. The region has been badly affected by heatwaves and drought, making local people nervous about further predicted increases in temperature.
Riddhima Singh Bhati
A factory in China is shrouded by a haze of air pollution. The World Health Organisation has warned such pollution, much of which is from the fossil fuels that cause climate change, is a “public health emergency”.
Leung Ka Wa
Water levels in reservoirs, like this one in Gers, France, have been getting perilously low in areas across the world affected by drought, forcing authorities to introduce water restrictions.
Worldwide, the fossil fuel sector receives far more subsidies than renewables, although this can be difficult to calculate because of the array of tax breaks and other incentives.
A recent study by the International Energy Agency and the Financial Times found that the sector received four times more subsidies than renewable energy in 2014 – $490bn compared to $112bn.
However other researchers put the fossil fuel subsidy much higher at $5.3 trillion worldwide in 2015 – about 6.5 per cent of the total gross domestic product.