Trump Likely To Slash And Burn Obama’s Climate Policy

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.” ‚Äì Barack Obama, January 14 2014

The problem with President Obama’s strategy for his political and policy legacy is that an “action” that lives by the pen can die by the pen. So it will be, apparently, with his administration’s climate and other environmental policies, which are on the way to being largely undone by Donald Trump’s administration after the property tycoon won the US election last week. US and international climate activists will try to hang on, kicking and screaming, to the various big Obama climate actions. Unfortunately, it would seem to be the case that if a president decides to undo a previous president’s executive orders, or signatures on international agreements, he can do so. So kicking and screaming may describe the limits of the effective response to Mr Trump’s undoing of President Obama’s climate agenda. –John Dizard, Financial Times, 11 November 2016

U.S. EPA employees were in tears. Worried Energy Department staffers were offered counseling. Some federal employees were so depressed, they took time off. Others might retire early. And some employees are in downright panic mode in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory. EPA employees stand to see some of the most drastic changes under the Trump administration, and they may be taking things a bit harder than other government workers. The president-elect has vowed to repeal some of the rules they’ve toiled on for the last eight years during the Obama administration, including the Clean Power Plan rule to cut power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions. –Robin Bravender and Kevin Bogardus, E&E News, 11 November 2016

In looking for someone to follow through on his campaign vow to dismantle one of the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies, President-elect Donald J. Trump probably could not have found a better candidate for the job than Mr. Ebell. Mr. Ebell, who revels in taking on the scientific consensus on global warming, will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction of the federal agencies that address climate change and environmental policy more broadly. –Henry Fountain, The New York Times, 11 November 2016

Mr. Ebell grew up on a ranch in Oregon. He got his undergraduate degree at Colorado College and master’s at the London School of Economics, where he studied under the conservative political philosopher Michael Oakeshott. He has described himself as “sort of a contrarian by nature and upbringing,” and has said he was very strongly influenced by the “question authority” ethos of 1960s and ’70s counterculture. “I really think that people should be suspicious of authority,” he told an interviewer last year. “The more you’re told that you have to believe something, the more you should question it.” –Henry Fountain, The New York Times, 11 November 2016

Many developing nations’ promises to act under last year’s Paris Agreement set pre-conditions including increasing funds to help them limit greenhouse gas emissions and make their economies more resilient to heat waves, floods, storms and rising seas. Without extra money, they say they won’t be able to do so much. Trump, who has called man-made climate change a hoax, wants to cancel the Paris Agreement and halt any U.S. taxpayer funds for U.N. global warming programs. If he follows through, that will threaten a collective pledge by rich nations in Paris to raise climate finance from both public and private sources from a combined $100 billion a year promised for 2020. “My only worry is the money,” said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of Democratic Republic of Congo, who heads a group of the 48 least developed nations. —Reuters, 12 November 2016

Only five MPs voted against the Climate Change Bill in September 2008. In an orgy of self-righteousness, parliament voted near-unanimously to cut the UK’s CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a date which is past the deadline of at least half of the honourable members who supported it. Thus was laid the foundation of Britain’s barmy energy policy. This has given us expensive domestic fuel prices in a time of plenty, prevented the building of gas-fired power stations and culminated in the biggest postdated cheque ever written on the UK taxpayer, in the form of the finance for the Hinkley Point power station. The sceptics at the Global Warming Policy Forum describe the Act as “a one-shot rocket, quite without steering and with precious little provision for deceleration … if a change of pace is not possible, abrupt termination becomes inevitable”. –Neil Collins, Financial Times, 11 November 2016

China’s government said it would raise coal power capacity by as much as 20% by 2020, ensuring a continuing strong role for the commodity in the country’s energy sector despite a pledge to bring down pollution levels. In a new five-year plan for electricity released Monday, the National Energy Administration said it would raise coal-fired power capacity from around 900 gigawatts last year to as high as 1,100 gigawatts by 2020. The roughly 200-gigawatt increase alone is more than the total power capacity of Canada. –Brian Spegele, The Wall Street Journal, 8 November 2016