Tech Giants Stand Up for Clean Energy in the Trump Era

April 3, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Silicon Valley’s attitude toward Donald Trump on the campaign trail was decidedly less than enthusiastic. Sure, contrarian Peter Thiel stood with the loose cannon Republican candidate, but his politics have always leaned further right than most of his colleagues. The vast majority of the tech world viewed Trump with skepticism, uncertain of what his approach to science and technology would be.

Now that we are a couple of months into his presidency, that skepticism has hardened into something resembling opposition. Trump’s controversial immigration ban alienated an industry reliant on the best minds in the world to fuel innovation, and his apparent disinterest in the Office of Science and Technology Policy has dulled the tech community’s influence in Washington. Making matters worse, the president’s proposed budget would gut research-and-development spending. Many eHealth app developers are despondent, frustrated, outraged: can the president not see that this is no time to stunt the progress of science and technology?

Trump is apparently blind to the stakes, and his ignorance unfortunately extends to climate change as well. Last Tuesday, the president signed his “Energy Independence” executive order, which begins the long process of rolling back the Clean Power Plan and other regulations designed to fight climate change put into place by the Obama administration. Framed as “an end to the war on coal,” the order has naturally angered environmental groups, but giants in the tech industry are standing up it as well. In the wake of Trump’s order, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft signed a joint statement vowing to stick to their clean energy commitments. This should come as no surprise to iOS app developers familiar with the history of these companies; after all, all four had defended Obama’s environmental policies when they came under fire in the past. Last year, Apple announced that 93% of its facilities run on renewable energy, including all of its American facilities. As for Google, it is determined to transition to exclusively using clean energy over the course of the next year.

In the statement, the tech titans state that clean energy policies support “American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth.” It’s important that these companies highlight the economic benefits of renewable energy, especially since Trump is positioning his order as good for business. Like many Los Angeles iPhone app developers, these tech companies are betting on the clean energy innovators of the future, not the fossil fuel industry of the past. They are also betting that a living planet is better for business than a dying one.

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