For environmentalists across the world, Donald Trump’s victory does not bode well.
His stance on climate, as with the majority of his policies, is ill explained, inconsistent and ill informed.
In this video, Trump promises to leave the Paris Agreement, and cancel all US payments to help mitigate climate change.
These elements evidence the befuddled mix of accusations, bordering on the nonsensical, that make up the Trump mindset. In the wider analysis, climate change is just one of many elements he’s attacked throughout the campaign.
By seeking to blame anyone and anything available for America’s woes, Trump has successfully convinced a disenfranchised electorate that an isolationist approach to all issues, including warming, is the path forward.
But now he is actually in power, Trump’s rhetoric, stance and policy on climate change are likely to unravel around him. Here’s why.
Trump’s global warming problem; US people and US businesses win, not lose, when climate change is taken seriously
Trump has a sticky issue to face. It’s about how he balances his global warming stance with his key goals of building a prosperous, jobs-rich US.
Today, plenty of US corporates already understand the risks global warming presents. In 2015, for example, Walmart, Goldman Sachs and Starbucks all committed to using 100% renewable energy. Contrastingly, Trump wants to burn more coal, promising to scrap regulations on it.
To meet his electoral promises, Trump must deliver both growth and jobs, fast. The trouble is, his policy on warming actually endangers US firms and will actively destroy jobs today and in the future.
A recent Time article lays out Trump’s dilemma. ‘Businesses have a number of reasons to act on climate change. In addition to gaining positive publicity, companies hope to mitigate some of the financial risks climate change poses to their businesses. A Citigroup report released last month found that minimizing temperature rises could minimize global GDP loss to the tune of $50 trillion in the coming decades.’
But The International Business Times quotes Trump telling the Miami Herald it’s climate considerations that are making US businesses suffer, a blatant lie which ignores scientific consensus: “Our businesses are unable to compete in this country because other countries aren’t being forced to do what our businesses are being forced to do and it makes us non-competitive.”
As usual, his strategy externalises blame, using no fact nor reference to proven knowledge or statistics. He has won the election on claims to be strongly pro-business, pro-America’s economy and pro-jobs for the people.
But his climate policy, if unchanged, will kick these very people in the teeth, by damaging the American corporations that offer Trump’s panacea; jobs.
Denying climate change can’t work; modern business investors run a mile from emissions-ridden firms, the Dow Jones will judge Trump harshly. CSR has never been more powerful. Energy costs and scarcity are top issues for today’s boards.
Trump’s anti-warming stance can only alienate him from a wide percentage of intelligent, progressive corporate America, damage US corporations and set up even deeper failures to come.
Can Trump row back on climate change?
How damaging, given this analysis, can Trump truly be? He could, in one scenario, row back on his anti-warming stance, citing advisors and big business letting him know that actually he is shooting himself, and his electorate in the foot.
Alternatively, he could barge ahead regardless. Then, he will face many legislative and legal complications in trying to extricate the US from the Paris Agreement.
This will take a lot of time, wrangling and effort. Trump has ZERO political or diplomatic experience, rather, he is skilled at offending and bullying. He is likely to run into issues that will take up a lot of his tenure, all the while attempting to manage relations with his new, demanding electorate.
At this stage, it’s impossible to judge the percentage of campaign rhetoric that will end up policy. Either way, Trump is plainly not good for the rest of us on global warming, even if he softens his approach. US leadership, not denial, is required.
Reacting to Trump’s victory, Friends of the Earth’s Chief Executive Officer Craig Bennett said: “The clean energy revolution is now unstoppable. We’ll always have Paris, which commits the rest of the international community to climate action.
“If Mr Trump chooses to disengage, then he will hand the next industrial revolution lock, stock and barrel to China.”
It would be hugely ironic if Trump gives the Eastern industry he so chastises a boost, by refusing to wind back on his illogical climate change position.
In this case, the highest price of Trump’s policy could well be paid by those he claims to put first, America’s electorate. Will he have the humility to learn? Or will he reinstate American reliance on fossil fuels and sow the seeds for American industry to perish, while the sustainable world leaves it straggling?