Accelerating clean economic transition only way to “make America great again”

Intro

Following one of the most divisive and controversial Presidential election campaigns in US history, the victory of Republican candidate Donald Trump has rocked markets and audiences around the world. A chorus of business experts, health professionals and climate action advocates have expressed alarm at Trump’s history of climate denial and his recent campaign pledges to “rip up” the Paris Agreement and roll-back domestic policies to protect water and boost clean energy. However, victory in hand the populist President-elect has already begun softening his rhetoric, proclaiming that it is his mission to unify a divided electorate, to double economic growth, and to revitalise American infrastructure – all of which can only be achieved by boosting the clean energy revolution that increasingly underpins growth in all major, modern economies. As for the new global climate treaty, the USA has ratified the Paris Agreement along with 103 countries (so far), giving it legal force. Since abandoning the agreement would see dire diplomatic and economic consequences for the US, senior diplomats are bullish about Trump’s ability to destabilise progress at climate negotiations. And considering action to reduce fossil fuel use is desperately needed to address air pollution, the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of American citizens rely on continued good-faith engagement on climate action and the clean energy transition.

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Key Points

  • Climate change cannot be stopped by a single country, and the rising tide of climate action will not be held back by a single leader. The new global climate treaty is built on 20 years of painstaking negotiations,, and since it was agreed by world governments in Paris last December it has been hastened into effect (given legal force) with unprecedented speed. While a Trump administration could indeed prove a significant complication to progress, the Paris Agreement has both resilience and momentum that will continue to drive the decoupling of fossil fuels and economic growth. Any country, however big, that does not act in concert with the international community will be quickly left behind both economically and politically.

  • In a changing world there is only one way to ‘Make America Great Again’: embrace the clean economic and energy transition and the jobs boom it offers American workers. President-elect Trump’s 100 day action plan is big on nostalgia for dying industries, but short on plans to take advantage of the realities of the new global economy. The fossil fuel economy may have fueled the American Dream when Trump was a boy, but in the modern world it is a volatile wealth destroying nightmare that impoverishes communities as it poisons them. The overwhelming majority of Americans want climate action and clean energy, and this is already being delivered via a surging electric vehicle market and a solar already that employs four times more American workers than coal. By committing to 100per cent renewable the Trump Administration could save 200,000 lives, $160billion per year in fossil fuel imports, and create 180,000 clean jobs in the US by 2030, helping the country keep pace with countries like China and India

  • Reneging on the United States’ commitments under the Paris Agreement is not possible without far reaching diplomatic consequences for the United States. Abandoning a global agreement developed by 193 parties throughout years of tough negotiations will severely harm the Trump administration’s position when dealing with other major powers on the international stage, risking America’s critical trade and security alliances. As climate change now sits at the heart of so many key international issues including trade, human health, security, and aid, a blanket abandonment of the most important international process on climate change is unthinkable for any leader interested in getting the best deal as well as serving and protecting their people.

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Key Quotes

  • “President-elect Trump will soon realize that climate action is a core part of the US’ responsibility as a global leader. There is no point denying the reality of science, and real world examples have shown that proactive climate action comes with significant business opportunities. Businesses, cities and all people must continue their work to help the US realize its leadership role on climate change.” – Connie Hedegaard, Chair, KR Foundation and Former European Commissioner for Climate Action

  • “President-elect Donald Trump has been the source of a lot of bluster on climate change over the last year, but now that the election campaign has passed and the realities of leadership settle in, I expect he will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US including my own.” – Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

  • “Beyond national politics, modernisation of the energy system and of basic infrastructure is good for the US economy, for jobs, for growth.” – Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

  • “The global economy has already begun to shift its focus towards a low carbon future. Markets and economics are likely to moderate any future US policy shift as US companies and investors assess what will keep America’s economy competitive and in business in a global market – given that some its largest trading partners and competitors are already heavily investing in low carbon technologies and infrastructure.” – Achim Steiner, Director of Oxford Martin School and former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

  • “With the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the world now has a legal mandate to bring about a zero carbon future. This is a fantastic business opportunity. What is now required from corporate leaders is a real step change in the way they deal with climate change. They must move from an incremental, compliance approach to a transformational approach, the only one that can deliver a sustainable, prosperous world.” – Jill Duggan, Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group

  • “The benefits are already being recognised by a number of US states which are harnessing their abundant clean energy resources. It’s also popular with the American public. A recent Pew Research Centre study showed that 83 per cent of American adults support expanding wind farms, while 89 per cent support solar expansion.” – Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Advisor, Christian Aid

  • “President-elect Trump has the opportunity to catalyze further action on climate that sends a clear signal to investors to keep the transition to a renewable-powered economy on track. China, India, and other economic competitors are racing to be the global clean energy superpower, and the US doesn’t want to be left behind.” – Tina Johnson, Policy Director, US Climate Action Network

  • “From infrastructure to foreign aid, every decision the next President makes should be made through the lens of bold climate action. It’s not enough to just admit climate change is real, we need a President who will dramatically accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy for all.” – May Boeve, Executive Director at 350.org

  • “The new president must protect the people he serves from climate chaos. No personal belief or political affiliation can change the stark truth that every new oil well and pipeline pushes us closer to catastrophe. The administration has moral and legal obligations to meet international commitments and go further to curb pollution and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground.” – Maya Golden-Krasner, Senior Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity

  • “The Paris Agreement was signed and ratified not by a President, but by the United States itself. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments.” – Carroll Muffett, President, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

  • “Trump must choose whether he will be a President remembered for putting America and the world on a path to climate disaster, or for listening to the American public and keeping us on a path to climate progress. Trump better choose wisely, otherwise – we can guarantee him the hardest fight of his life every step of the way.” – Michael Brune, Executive Director, The Sierra Club

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