Statement on President Trump’s executive order to roll back environmental protections

Johannesburg, 30 March 2017 — The Trump Administration launched an attack on the environment when the president signed an executive order rolling back some of the Obama Administration’s most critical climate protections and clean energy policies, including the Clean Power Plan.

The African Climate Reality Project regrets and condemns the Trump Administration’s move to weaken efforts to fight the climate crisis. This decision not only threatens the environment and people’s health in the USA; it also severely undermines the global efforts to tackle climate change.

As one of the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, the United States carries a major responsibility for the current global warming and the changes in climate patterns that adversely affect people around the planet, including in countries that bear little if any historical responsibility for these heat-trapping emissions. The executive order signed by President Trump signals that his administration has no intention of supporting the much-needed transition to a low-carbon economy, while other countries are working towards reducing harmful emissions in spite of developmental challenges. The new administration openly and remorselessly tramples over the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

With this executive order, the Trump administration shows short-termism and complete disregard for the consequences of their back-to-coal strategy for the people and for future generations, in the United States and the world over. It confirms that despite his “anti-establishment” campaign claims, President Trump’s world remains one where the vested interests of a few prevail over public good and the interests of the majority.

“The executive order, directing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rolling back environmental protections and policies including the Clean Power Plan, is a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come,” former US Vice President and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project Al Gore stated in reaction to the signing of the executive order on 28 March.

“It is essential, not only to our planet, but also to our economic future, that the United States continues to serve as a global leader in solving the climate crisis by transitioning to clean energy, a transition that will continue to gain speed due to the increasing competiveness of solar and wind.”

No matter how discouraging this executive order may be, we must, we can, and we will solve the climate crisis.

Former US Vice President and Cairment of The Climate Reality Project Al Gore

Ken Berlin, President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, also commented strongly on the executive order.

“The Trump Administration continues to fulfill its campaign promise to trample on environmental protections and prioritize the jobs of fossil fuel executives under the guise of protecting American workers while in fact destroying the perpetually growing renewable energy industry that employs hundreds of thousands in the country. If President Trump were serious about creating energy jobs, he’d listen to the market and promote further growth in clean energy, the number one job provider in the electricity generation sector.”

“The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is a model of what smart climate policy should do: ensure states fulfill their obligations to protect citizens’ health while empowering them to decide how to do it,” he added.

“The good news”, Berlin said, “is that the President cannot rescind the CPP by decree. Instead, EPA must start a new regulatory process and its action must comply with law and be based on the facts. The changes that the President seeks will not meet that standard and they will be challenged at every step of the way, including in court. “

“The executive order also demands the Department of the Interior lift its coal leasing moratorium on public lands. The Climate Reality Project delivered over 42,000 citizen comments to Interior, urging it to end coal mining on public lands permanently. President Trump promised to represent all Americans, but he is actively disregarding these voices and the vast majority of Americans who want to see more clean energy and less destruction of the environment.

“Though the President’s executive order undoubtedly seeks to weaken institutionalized protections for clean energy and the environment, the good news is that no executive order can roll back the overwhelming public support and the economic momentum of clean energy. As solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy continue to become cheaper and as more substantive local and private sector action is taken to reduce emissions, we will keep making progress. The government cannot ignore a clean energy mandate from the people, and it’s our job as citizens, activists, organizers, parents, friends, and neighbors to work to make that mandate a reality.”

“No matter how discouraging this executive order may be, we must, we can, and we will solve the climate crisis,” Gore affirmed. “No one man or group can stop the encouraging and escalating momentum we are experiencing in the fight to protect our planet.”