Is Trump Finally Accepting the Truth?
Jan 22 2017
The chief climate change negotiator for China has suggested that Donald Trump is not quite as resistant to the idea of the phenomenon as he has indicated throughout his presidential campaign. Speaking to the China Daily newspaper, Xie Zhenhua claimed that Trump’s ascension to the White House does not necessarily spell disaster for the future of our environment.
Established climate change denier
In the run-up to the election on November 8th, Trump has repeatedly stated his belief that climate change was nothing more than a hoax created by the Chinese in order to dismantle the US economy, calling it a “joke” and a “con” on various different occasions.
What’s more, Trump often criticised outgoing President Barack Obama’s stance on the issue, calling his support of the Paris agreement “ridiculous”. He vowed that were he to win the election, he would pull back strongly on US commitments in order to stabilising the American economy in a plan he called “America First”.
After his triumph, one of Trump’s first acts was to announce that NASA would no longer be allowed to investigate Earth science, favouring space exploration instead. The move was ostensibly made in order to allow other, more qualified centres of research to focus on climate change, but critics are worried the move is a lateral attempt to bury global warming research in order to pander to big oil, gas and coal companies – the very people Trump decried in his campaign.
Turning of the tide?
Since the election, there has been much speculation as to how his inauguration would affect US policy on climate change – and how this in turn will affect the global response as a whole. There were fears that should the US withdraw from the Paris agreement, the pact could crumble and irreparable damage would be done to relations with a whole host of countries around the world (not to mention the damage done to the environment itself).
However, Xie’s words indicate that perhaps the environmental outlook is not quite as gloomy as it seemed. He indicated that global pressure, as well as domestic accountability, would prevent Trump from pulling out of the agreement altogether, as he had previously promised. He also said that even were the US to step aside, the process had gained enough momentum that it could not now be stopped.
“Industrial upgrades aiming for more sustainable growth is a global trend,” he is quoted as saying. “It is not something that can be reversed by a single political leader.”
China ready to step into the breach
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a rousing speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos earlier this month, in which he indicated that China were ready to lead the world in terms of environmental change should Trump keep his pre-election promises.
It’s the first time that a Chinese leader has made an appearance at the annual event in Switzerland and Xi made sure to place himself and his nation at the forefront of global consciousness. Speaking of Trump’s policy of protectionism (looking after America’s interests before those of the planet), Xi said it was like “locking oneself in a dark room” to stave off external dangers, only to find oneself without “light or air”.
Whether or not Trump is ultimately coming round to the idea of manmade climate change as an immutable fact remains to be seen. On the other hand, if Trump does continue to bury his head in the sand, at least it seems another world leader is ready to take up the reins.
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