The Political Dimension
Every climate protection is in Trump's crosshairs. We must fight now.
by Annie Leonard
The U.S. president-elect is surrounded with fossil fuel industry insiders seeking to roll back climate change regulations. We cannot let this stand.
Since U.S. election day, the public rejection of Donald Trump and his politics has been vast. Now, as the reality of his impending presidency settles in, those of us who reject the racist, misogynist, anti-environmentalist agenda he promises to usher in are left with one, glaring course of action: we have to organize and mobilize.
When it comes to climate change, Trump wants to slash EPA funding, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, stop funding clean energy research and expand fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, including doubling down on coal. He is surrounding himself with fossil fuel industry insiders, like Myron Ebell and Harold Hamm, who want to roll back the hard-won gains made under the Obama Administration.
But US election results don’t change the science or the reality of climate change. So here’s how we need to work together to minimize the potential climate impacts of a Trump presidency.
First, Barack Obama is still in office, and there is still time to make progress for people and the planet. He could begin by suspending the permits for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and ordering a full Environmental Impact Study with comprehensive tribal consultation. Stopping the pipeline is an unprecedented rallying point for indigenous people across the country, who are calling on the US government to observe its own treaties and the rights and sovereignty of native communities.
But it would also eliminate a transport option for fracked oil from the Bakken shale, which the world simply does not need. Oil markets already have plenty of supply, the oil would greatly contribute to climate change when we know we need to be transitioning to a renewables-based economy, and the only people who would benefit work in the fossil fuel industry. You can call on the president to act quickly by joining the millions who have signed a petition, coming out to one of the solidarity events or, if you can find the time or resources, donating to or even joining the water protectors at Standing Rock.
Second, we need to build more local democratic power for the climate movement. States and even municipalities can have a lot of sway over the direction America goes. For instance, a ballot initiative that won in Colorado on election day, sponsored by the oil and gas industry and funded by millions of its dollars, enacted a statewide policy that will drastically limit citizens’ power to democratically regulate or ban fracking in their towns.
Americans concerned with protecting themselves and future generations from the worst effects of climate change must push back against these efforts, drafting, campaigning for and organizing around legislation and local lawmakers who will stand up to the oil and gas industry. And we must actively oppose those who don’t.
In the aftermath of the election, local movement power in our communities is going to be critical. Volunteer, start initiatives, find meetings and get to know organizers and activists near you. Find reasons to interact face to face with allies. Check in with neighbors and friends, ask how they are doing and how you can support them. Or make a donation to an organization you care about.
Where democracy has been usurped by industry influence and Trumpist politics, we are going to have to be creative and courageous with our minds, time, and bodies. If Trump’s administration makes good on its threats to boost destructive sectors like coal, oil and gas, the climate movement will need to peacefully but significantly escalate its resistance. There will be no shortage of ways to get involved, including nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience against infrastructure and the leasing programs of the Department of Interior.
I take hope from remembering that the fight for climate justice is global. The momentum Obama gave us may drop off, but many other nations are still leading. Private sector giants – from Apple, to Tesla, to Ikea – are building successful businesses around renewable energy. Cities across the US and all over the world are independently stepping up to become climate champions.
Greenpeace and the big, beautiful, global climate movement will not stop fighting for our collective future. We’ll protest peacefully, empowered by millions, and we’ll do our part to build a stronger, intersectional progressive movement that will be here to lead when Trumpism fails to deliver.
Whatever comes next, it’s vital to acknowledge that Trump’s election has millions of people justifiably feeling scared for their physical safety and future. He and his surrogates spent months threatening immigrants, women, people of color, Muslims and the differently-abled community, among many others. We must all begin by re-committing ourselves to protecting and caring for each other, especially by rallying behind the groups and communities targeted by Trumpism.
We are going to get through this. Through courage, action and persistence we will win in the long term for people and the planet. It’s a scary time for all of us, but that’s all the more reason to do this together.
◊ Annie Leonard is the executive director of Greenpeace USA.
Publ. here 16.11.2016