World leaders at the recent G-20 summit presented a mostly unified front against President Donald Trump in retaliation for his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. The opposition to Trump’s policies — framed as the “G19 vs the US” and formulated in the name of saving Earth from supposed catastrophic climate change — is likely to persist, too, until, that is, these nations wish to benefit from them by purchasing American oil, coal, and natural gas.
With the exception of a few countries — namely Canada, Indonesia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia — most of the G-20 nations and other Western countries are dependent on energy imports. For example, none of the European Union’s 28 member states are capable of satisfying their energy needs through domestic production. As a whole, the European Union depends on imports for 88.2 percent of its oil consumption, 67.4 percent of its natural gas consumption, and approximately 45 percent of its coal supplies. The vast majority of these imports are sourced by Russia, which provided 29 percent of the European Union’s oil, 29 percent of its coal, and 37.5 percent of its natural gas consumed in 2014.
Although Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the nations in the “G19” who have shown their disapproval of Trump’s policies, they are likely opposed to them because they do not wish to cede market share and profits to the United States, not because they are concerned about climate change. However, the world would undoubtedly benefit if Russia and Saudi Arabia’s energy grip is loosened and the United States’ role in the global energy market is expanded.
Given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s history of using energy as a means of flexing the Kremlin’s geopolitical muscles in the past and Saudi Arabia’s role as the ringleader of the manipulative Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), it is not hard to imagine a situation in which most G-20 members would prefer an American alternative for their energy supplies. Luckily for import-dependent nations, Trump’s energy policies will do just that.
Trump has already started to lift impediments to energy production enacted by his predecessor, streamline the permitting process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, and permit businesses in the United States to ship LNG to countries that do not have a free-trade agreement. These polices will help ensure the world has access to affordable energy — and without having to kowtow to Russia and Middle Eastern kings and despots.
Trump’s polices will likely result in an influx of U.S. energy products pouring into international markets. Many analysts predict the United States will become a net energy exporter by 2020. Additionally, a report by the International Energy Association found the United States will challenge Australia and Qatar as the top LNG exporter in the world by 2022.
American LNG tankers are already making their way to Europe. In July, the United Kingdom received its first big shipment of U.S. LNG to help it compensate for declining gas production in the North Sea. Like the United States, the United Kingdom has shale gas reserves available, but unlike America, it has not yet embraced hydraulic fracturing as a means of accessing them. Until the United Kingdom does, it will continue to import shale gas from U.S. producers.
The benefits of American energy are not limited to Europe. China — which also “unified” against Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate agreement (while also planning to build 1,600 coal plants around the world) — sources about 7 percent of its LNG supplies from the United States, and because China will account for 40 percent of natural gas demand growth over the next five years, the need for American energy in the global market will almost certainly increase.
Being the world’s lone superpower is often a thankless job, but someone has to do the heavy lifting. While world leaders may outwardly disapprove of the actions of the United States, their citizens will (hopefully) appreciate having more affordable energy options at their disposal.