FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump Has Given Us the Opportunity to Save the Planet, Now We Must Seize It

Under the climate leadership of President Obama there was a (misguided) feeling that with America in the driving seat we could probably all take it a bit easy.  Now the world has woken up from that dangerous fantasy and people are realising that everyone needs to pull their finger out.

Already we’ve seen a thundering response from China and the EU – both reinforcing their commitment to the Paris Agreement and accelerating their coordination to take on the leadership role that America has vacated.  That is a powerful duo, and has been followed by other leaders around the world rallying to the cause. We can expect more of this when the G20 meet at the end of the month.

By pulling out of the Paris Agreement, Trump has initiated a four-year process which will culminate right around the next US Presidential election.  Not only does this open the way for a swifter return to the fold for America under a new President, it also will likely make climate change one of the key issues of the next election campaign.  That is a huge platform to educate and inform the American public about, not only the reality of climate change but also the benefits of international cooperation, the value of ever cheaper, clean, renewable energy and the skilled jobs that it brings.

Trump spoke fondly of the US coal miners in his White House speech last Thursday but if he really wanted to act in the long-term interests of American coal miners he would invest in retraining so these communities can benefit from the jobs of the present and future, rather than watch those of the past dwindle away.  Already there are more jobs in US renewables than in extracting coal, oil and gas combined. Coal is dying, market forces have seen to that. If Trump doesn’t think turning US coal miners into wind farm technicians is feasible then he should take a look in Carbon County, Wyoming, where the Chinese are planning to do exactly that.

Often a politician’s ignorance and hubris on climate change is likened to the story of King Canute demonstrating his inability to command the incoming tide. However the tide Trump cannot avoid is the decarbonisation of the global economy. Technological advancement, increased public awareness, international determination and market forces are arrayed against him. The 20th century was a century powered by fossil fuels and America dominated it. The 21st century will be powered by clean energy and in this self-defeating act Trump has rung last orders on American supremacy. The low-carbon industrial revolution is up for grabs.

Trump’s actions have also proved just what a robust and cleverly designed instrument the Paris Agreement is. In the past had America pulled out like this the likes of India and China would have probably followed suit within hours. But by being built from the bottom up, with each country pledging to do it own’s bit and promising to increase this over time, instead of doing a runner, other nations are holding the line and condemning the US as a pariah state. India and China have not only announced their recommitment to the pact, they are also on track to overshoot their own predicted commitments.

Not only has Trump created a shockwave through the international community he has also stirred up a reaction within the US as well.  City mayors, Governors, business leaders, campaigners and civil society groups have reacted with outrage and fury at his attempted environmental sabotage. It even got the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, to tweet for the first time ever.

Already efforts are under way to meet the US pledges of the Paris Agreement through non-federal means and people are being motivated and mobilised across the country and the world. As the writer Malcolm Gladwell has noted, often the reaction to a social or political event is much more significant than the action. Had Trump remained technically inside the Paris Agreement, deceived the world with mixed messages and idle promises and slowly undermined its potency, then we would have really been in trouble. But by nailing his colours to the mast as an enemy of the planet we know what the stakes are and what we’re up against.

Christiana Figueres, the former General Secretary of the UNFCCC who oversaw the signing of the Paris Agreement tweeted: “Thank you Trump.  You have provoked an unparalleled wave of support for Paris and determined resolve on climate action. Deeply grateful.”

As Winston Churchill is reported to have said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”  Trump has created the crisis, we now need to make the most of it.

Joe Ware is a journalist and writer at Christian Aid and a New Voices contributor to the Ecologist, where this column originally appeared.   Follow him on twitter @wareisjoe.

To find out about Christian Aid’s Big Shift campaign to get our banks to shift their investments from fossil fuels to renewables visit www.christian-aid.org.uk/bigshift

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 27, 2020
Peter Harrison
Adani and the Purpose of Education
Dean Baker
Can Manufacturing Workers Take Many More of Trump’s Trade “Victories”?
Robert Fisk
Trump in Davos: US isolationism is Reaching Its Final Narcissistic Chapter
Ariel Dorfman
The Challenge for Chile and the World
Victor Grossman
The Misuses of Antisemitism in the UK and the USA
Thomas Knapp
Bernie Sanders, Joe Rogan, Human Rights Campaign, and Truth in Advertising
Fred Gardner
NewsGuard Can Save You From Putin!
Lawrence Wittner
A Historian Reflects on the Return of Fascism
Rose Miriam Elizalde
Cuba: a Matter of Principle
Bob Topper
The Better Moral Creed
George Wuerthner
Giving Cover to the Abuses of Big Ag
Christopher Packham
This is Really Happening
Negin Owliaei
Americans Need to Hear More From Iranians, Here’s Where to Start
Ted Rall
Corporate Crap That Doesn’t Kill Bernie
Elliot Sperber
Sunset’s Soon
Weekend Edition
January 24, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
A Letter From Iowa
Jim Kavanagh
Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Camp by the Lake
Chuck Churchill
The Long History of Elite Rule: What Will It Take To End It?
Robert Hunziker
A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed
Andrew Levine
Trump: The King
Jess Franklin
Globalizing the War on Indigenous People: Bolsonaro and Modi
James Graham
From Paris, With Tear Gas…
Rob Urie
Why the Primaries Matter
Dan Bacher
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?
Ramzy Baroud
In the Name of “Israel’s Security”: Retreating US Gives Israel Billions More in Military Funding
Vijay Prashad
What the Right Wing in Latin America Means by Democracy Is Violence
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden’s Shameful Foreign Policy Record Extends Well Beyond Iraq
Louis Proyect
Isabel dos Santos and Africa’s Lumpen-Bourgeoisie
Nick Pemberton
AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Promtheus’ Fire: Climate Change in the Time of Willful Ignorance
Linn Washington Jr.
Waiting for Justice in New Jersey
Ralph Nader
Pelosi’s Choice: Enough for Trump’s Impeachment but not going All Out for Removal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Don’t Kill 72 Grizzly Bears So Cattle Can Graze on Public Lands
Joseph Natoli
Who’s Speaking?
Kavaljit Singh
The US-China Trade Deal is Mostly Symbolic
Cesar Chelala
The Coronavirus Serious Public Health Threat in China
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Must Remain Vigilant and on Guard Against US Hybrid Warfare
Robert Fantina
Impeachment as a Distraction
Courtney Bourgoin
What We Lose When We Lose Wildlife
Mark Ashwill
Why Constructive Criticism of the US is Not Anti-American
Daniel Warner
Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times
Manuel Perez-Rocha
How NAFTA 2.0 Boosts Fossil Fuel Polluters, Particularly in Mexico
Dean Baker
What the Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity
Mel Gurtov
India’s Failed Democracy
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail