Will President-Elect Trump Keep His Climate-Trashing Campaign Promises?

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Originally published on Red, Green, & Blue.
By Meteor Blades

In Marrakesh, Morocco, it’s the third day of the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): COP22. On the agenda there for climate activists is acknowledging that, however historic, the pledges of reduced emissions that the nations of the world made when they signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement are just not going to be enough to keep the average global temperature rise below 2.0° Celsius. Right now, if those pledges were kept, we would, by the turn of the century, add a catastrophic 2.0° to the 1.0° we have already added since pre-industrial times.

But now there is the shadow of President-elect Trump over the talks in Marrakech.

Nobody who opposed Trump in this election needs to be reminded of his public stance on climate change. He is deeply in the denier camp of people who believe (or pretend to believe because it pads their bottom line) that climate change will go away if the scientists and activists will just shut up about it. Here’s The Guardian:

International environmental groups meeting at the UN climate talks in Morocco said it would be a catastrophe if Trump acted on his pledge to withdraw the US from the deal, which took 20 years to negotiate, and to open up public land for coal, oil and gas extraction.

Trump has called climate change a “hoax”, placing him virtually alone among world leaders on the validity of the science. The real estate magnate has promised to embark upon a four-year process of withdrawing the US from the Paris deal and has targeted the “billions and billion and billions” given to UN climate programmes and clean energy development.

Domestically, Trump has promised to reboot America’s ailing coal industry, as well as expand gas and oil drilling, despite the fact that the growth of natural gas use has caused the downturn in coal.

And he plans to get rid of the Clean Power Plan that would cut U.S. greenhouse emissions. Assuming, of course, that the courts don’t throw the plan out before then.

Donald Trump has pledged to bring back coal jobs. But those who expect that, miners and investors alike, are in for a surprise if they truly believe it. The market has moved on. And while the acceleration in the transformation of our energy system that we desperately need is a dead letter for at least four years, the idea that coal will be an energy source for 1,000 years, as Trump has said—and that those coal jobs are coming back—is a pipe dream.

So that’s a fail from Day One.

The worse impact, however will be global. As Brad Plumer writes today at Vox:

The Paris deal was always delicate, and the current pledges weren’t nearly enough to avoid dangerous global warming, defined as 2°C or more. But the deal was a start. And the hope was that by cooperating and exerting diplomatic pressure on each other, all countries would steadily increase action over time.

This plan, which Clinton wanted to build upon, was far from a sure bet to halt global warming. But it was arguably the most plausible and promising plan yet proposed in the history of international climate talks.

Now it’s all imperiled. If Trump yanks the United States out of the Paris agreement, the deal won’t die, but momentum could wane. One can imagine China and India deciding they don’t need to push nearly as hard on clean energy if the world’s richest and most powerful country doesn’t care. At best, progress would slow. At worst, the entire arrangement could collapse, and we set out on a path for 4°C warming or more.

These are decisions that will reverberate for thousands of years and affect hundreds of millions of people.

Thousands of years. And billions of people.

Given that a fascist, America’s Berlusconi, has been elected to the highest office in the land, the resistance faces many fights on many fronts. But even though most Americans don’t see it as a priority—including far too many progressives—climate change is going to become a more and more prominent trouble that cannot be ignored or given tertiary status as in the past.

Plumer has a list of arenas in which climate activists can still make inroads. The first one of those is key because it ties into other local political organizing that is truly grassroots:

States like California and New York are still pursuing their own ambitious climate policies, and it’s possible those efforts could be so successful that other states decide to follow suit.

In that, there is hope. Not that it will be easy. And not that we won’t be diverted by having to try to put out blazes President Trump will set alight in other places.

(Originally appeared at DailyKos)

Reprinted with permission.

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