Shanxi and Wyoming are a world apart but share one thing in common. Both are top coal producing areas whose economies are dependent on a dying industry – one that is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.
The two are working together to overcome their economic and environmental challenges.
CGTN America’s Karina Huber reports.
Jackson, Wyoming is cowboy country. Surrounded by ranches and cradled by the Teton Mountains, it’s known for its national parks and spectacular beauty.
The state is also known for something that threatens this environment—coal. Wyoming is the biggest coal producer in the United States. It funds everything from the state’s infrastructure to schools.
“There is for good reason a recognition that coal has contributed immensely to the prosperity of this country,” said David Wendt, President, Center for Global Affairs.
But coal revenues have dropped dramatically. Competition from natural gas and mandates to reduce fossil fuel emissions have made the industry less profitable than it once was. Wyoming’s governor is looking to diversify the state’s revenue.
Wendt said there is some resistance from some in the state to embrace clean energy.
“But there’s also the dawning recognition that that future is coming and we have to prepare for it,” said Wendt.
Shanxi—China’s top coal-producing province is also preparing for a new era. Shanxi and Wyoming have become sister states hoping to mine each other for ideas.
Chinese delegations have come to Jackson. Members of Jackson’s community, including Phillip Cameron, Executive Director, Energy Conservation Works, have gone to China.
“They see Jackson Hole as an iconic destination. We really want to leverage that identity to encourage members of this community and our global community to take conservation action and to consider renewable power,” said Cameron.
Jackson has always been an outlier in the state. It has been investing in renewables and conservation for years. Wendt said he was also impressed by China’s efforts to catch up on the environmental front.
“So there’s a massive buildup in China of all of their energy resources to reduce dependence on coal. At the same time as there is a very significant focus on cleaning up the existing coal,” said Wendt.
Wendt says coal is likely to be a part of the energy picture for some time in China – and in the United States – but the long-term trend is for renewable energy.
The hope among those at the Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs is that both nations can put aside any differences they may have and come together on the issue of saving our planet – a mutually beneficial goal that comes into sharp focus when looking at spectacular views like this.