Today Theresa May will be the first leader to meet Donald Trump since his inauguration as President last week. It is perhaps inevitable that the subject of energy policy will be discussed and, with this, global climate change policy. Mrs May has a duty not only on behalf of British people but on behalf of the people and governments of the rest of the world who have signed the Paris agreement to stand up to President Trump when it comes to his views on climate change.
Trump has been widely recognised as a climate change denier and it seems his actions in his first week of office back up his perspective. Within hours of his inauguration the White House web page on climate change had been replaced with a fossil fuel based energy policy page. Further, he is brought back the prospect of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines coming to fruition.
This is what we are up against.
Funnily enough many of the employees working for the Environment Protection Agency and National Parks Service, amongst others aren’t too happy with Trump’s take on environmental affairs and have taken to twitter, forming their own accounts after Trump gagged their official accounts.
@AltNatParkService amassed hundreds of thousands of followers within hours of its creation. You have to applaud their gutsiness. (worth a follow if you haven’t already)
So, how confident am I that May will stand up to Trump?
Answer is, not very.
An official statement regarding today’s visit and climate change was made by a UK government spokeswoman:
“The future direction of US climate policy is a matter for the US. But we face shared challenges on energy and have worked closely together on climate change issues. And we hope to see this continue under the new administration.”
You can see why my confidence levels are low. Future climate policy should not just be a matter for the US but a matter for us all. The actions that Trump takes over the next four (or god forbid, eight) years could have drastic consequences for people in other parts of the world as he potentially pushes fossil fuel levels, and thus temperature rises, beyond safe levels. The countries that are most vulnerable happen to also be among the poorest and least responsible when it comes to emitting fossil fuels. Think of Bangladesh, Eritrea, Sudan and the island nation of the Seychelles. In the Pacific, five islands in the Solomon Islands have already been lost due to a combination of erosion and rising sea levels.
Does Trump care? I’ll leave you to answer that one.
He needs to realise that his selfish actions will not be tolerated by the rest of the world. Of course I understand that we can’t afford to anger him, but we must also not allow him to bully the rest of the world and get his own selfish way for the sake of increasing the number of jobs in his country. Jobs can still be created through energy but instead of fossil fuel investment this should be investment in green energy. According to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) there are more American jobs in solar energy (209,000) than in either oil and gas extraction (187,200) or coal mining (67,929). Solar is where the growth is and this is just one aspect of renewable energy potential.
Paris is only really going to work if China and the US get behind it. The rest of the world (which includes Mrs May) needs to put pressure on Trump to acknowledge his responsibility to the rest of the world when it comes to polluting the atmosphere.
Trump threatens the stability of the world and the rest of the world must not stand for it.
Shortly after Trump’s election Irish Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin stated that we were at ‘an ugly crossroads’. His speech was impassioned and is well worth watching if you haven’t already.