We’ve all seen it too many times. Donald Trump signs yet another executive order, turns the document around and shows it to the world. Voila, he seems to say. Now it all is fixed. Last week, he did it again by signing an executive order that seemingly cancels climate action leaving the planet’s atmosphere with its days numbered.
That’s how Trump initiated the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the US’s centerpiece to meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The order also rescinds federal guidelines that direct agencies to account for the climate impacts of their actions and ends efforts to reform the broken federal coal-leasing program.
In short, already under Trump, the US has renounced its world climate leadership and become the planet’s biggest obstacle in tackling the climate crisis. Our president is now an international pariah, the only world leader that denies the climate science. It’s no wonder his approval rating has collapsed, down to 35 percent after only two months in office.
But unlike Trump, clean energy is extraordinarily popular. According to Gallup, almost 70 percent of Americans support the CPP, whereas 82 percent of Latinos do. Studies indicate that the elimination of the plan would cost the US a staggering $600 billion and 120,000 premature deaths. And too many of those deaths will be Latino.
In his speech, Trump insisted the main purpose of this atrocity is to create jobs. Nevertheless, according to a Sierra Club study based on Department of Energy jobs data across the energy sector, clean energy jobs vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide, breaking it down the following way: Clean energy jobs: 72 percent; oil: 14 percent; gas: 10 percent, and coal: 4 percent.
The country’s utilities have realized clean energy is cheaper than coal, and their long-term plans show it.
If Trump really wanted to bring prosperity to his voters, the way to go is clean, not dirty; forward, not back to the 19th Century.
Robert Murray himself, the owner of the country’s largest privately operated coal company, has acknowledged that “Trump can’t bring mining jobs back.”
Truth is, Trump and his “magic wand” face a wall of resistance much more formidable than the one he’s trying to build on the US-México border. The country’s utilities have realized clean energy is cheaper than coal, and their long-term plans show it. In the last two years, solar and wind comprised more than half of all the new energy installed in the country. And according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study, solar and wind will grow by 51 percent in the next three years, as Americans on average pay less for their electric bills.
This is a world trend. A report by the International Renewable Energy Agency revealed that the commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement will earn the world economy $19 trillion by investing in clean energy and energy efficiency. And it adds this push will make the dirty energy industry give up some $10 trillion in oil, gas and coal reserves, deeming them economically unviable.
Trump keeps waving his “wand” and signing executive order after executive order, exposing us all, especially our children and grandchildren, to a future of sinister consequences. But he also keeps underestimating the reality of international energy markets, the power and potential of clean energy around the globe, and something truly magical: the unwavering resistance of millions of people.
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC.