Since assuming office as the 45th President of the US, Mr Donald Trump, quite on expected lines, has been rolling back support for renewable energy initiatives such as Clean Power Plan and COP 21 Paris Agreement. However, international community remains committed to fightingclimate and willing to pull out all stops for reaching the targets set out in COP 21. I would like to alleviate some of the US President’s publicly expressed scepticism of climate change and climate action with some facts and science. In Dec 2013, when a cold storm swept through southern part of US, Trump announced climate change was a hoax. We first need to distinguish between weather and climate. We are talking of climate change not weather. Extremely cold weather is one data point and says nothingabout the climate and no conclusions can be drawn about climate or climate change.
Mr Trump also says that he does not believe that CO2 is responsible for global warming. He believes that it is all part of natural cycle. In 1950, CO2 levels went beyond 300 parts permillion (ppm) for the first time and have now reached 408 ppm. There is no explanation for why such an unprecedented rise (in a proven greenhouse gas) would not cause global warming. Then there are doubts expressed over whether CO2 rise is man-made. In pre-industrial era also, CO2 levels fluctuated at ~100 ppm which took thousands of years. Now compare that tothe rise in CO2 by 100 ppm in just 100 years. What else but anthropogenic activity can explainthis steep rise. Through fossil fuel burning we emit billions of tons of CO2 into air and no natural activity including volcanic activity can explain this. Such dangerous CO2 rise is clearly a man-made phenomena.
President elect fears that scientists are misleading us about global warming. Below are thelist of organizations that accept anthropogenic global warming: NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Academy of Sciences, Environmental Protection Agency, The Royal Society of the UK, American Meteorological Society, American Institute of Physics,National Center for Atmospheric Research, American Meteorological Society, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the list goes on and on. Such leading scientific institutions accept global warming due to human CO2 emissions a reality. In contrast can the sceptics back their opposition with equally credible sources. Have these “rogue” scientists infiltrated industries, UN, top science universities/organizations of every developed country.Highly unlikely!
Mr Trump says “its madness” to call climate change no one problem of humans and thinks that the world has got its priorities wrong. All the resources committed to climate action should instead be spent on fighting terrorism, global hunger, poverty etc. I respect this sentiment but we should also acknowledge this is a fight for preserving life itself on Earth. Global warming is disastrous for earth species and bio-diversity. We are all suited to particular weather patterns and sea levels which global warming is rapidly changing. In fact extreme weather events such as the furious snowstorm in parts of US was actually an indicator of disruption to our delicate ecological balance. Above all a delayed response to climate change will have a much larger negative economic impact on the planet and will impoverish not onlythe current but also the future generations.
Trump is rightly focused on job creation but his worry of the impact of renewable energy oncoal mining jobs is misplaced. What about the job creation from renewables sector? According to Solar foundation, solar industry added 35,000 jobs in 2015 up 20 per cent from previous year. Today there about 209,000 employees related to solar energy in US. The solar industry workforce is bigger than that of oil & gas construction and nearly three times the size of the entire coal mining work force. In fact encouraging green energy sectors and related high-tech manufacturing is the best way for Trump to fulfil his key electoral promise of creating jobsfor Americans. Economic growth and fight against climate change go hand in hand.
This fight against climate change is dependent on development of new clean energy technologies in energy efficiency, storage, transportation and newer ways of harnessing renewable resources for energy generation. The current set of technologies may not lead us to our goals. Our future lies in the next generation of green technologies and for that world also needs R&D, innovation and technology prowess of America’s hallowed institutions and organizations and this is what makes America truly great. India and rest of the world wants to see concrete steps towards a greener future from the US– the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter and a crucial player in climate policy.I hope that president elect Trump is listening.