The Trump administration's recent attack on U.S. climate strategy was no surprise. It's still wrongheaded.
The sweeping Executive Order the president signed on Tuesday aims to roll back the Clean Power Plan, which limits emissions from existing power plants. It will also enable more coal leasing on public lands and overturn restrictions on methane emissions, among other measures that protect people and the environment.
The move won't make America stronger, more secure or more prosperous. Just the opposite: it will set our country back, letting other countries take the lead in cleaner energy that creates jobs and improves people's lives.
Climate change is real and happening now, and it's impacting people across the United States. Consider:
- 2016 was the third consecutive year of record-warm global average temperatures.
- 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred this century.
- 15 extreme weather events each costing $1 billion or more occurred in the United States in 2016—the second highest on record—causing roughly $46 billion in damage.
- 123 million Americans live in coastal communities, which contribute nearly half of U.S. gross domestic product. Rising seas are putting more people, their homes and communities at risk.
- U.S. wildfires burned more than 10 million acres in 2016, a record. States like Oklahoma are experiencing even more fires this year, with nearly 900,000 acres burned, also a record. Dry, hot conditions contribute to these destructive fires.
Climate impacts aren't just happening here. They are taking place around the globe, where vulnerable, poor communities are hit hardest. The global impacts of climate change, including massive droughts, food shortages and other disasters, are contributing to a historic tide of human migration. These are the kinds of impacts that are likely to worsen as our world becomes hotter and less stable.
That's why the Pentagon has called climate change a "threat multiplier." Defense Secretary James Mattis recently stated in written testimony to Congress that climate change is a "driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon."
So who else wants climate action? Hundreds of leading businesses are calling for U.S. leadership on climate change. Nearly 900 businesses and investors have called on the president and Congress to act. More than 220 major companies have declared their intention to meet science-based targets to reduce emissions. These companies are not acting because it is good for the planet; they're doing so because it is in their economic interest.
The reality is that regardless of the new orders, the transition to cleaner energy and lower emissions will continue. And it's not just in blue states. Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma are leading the way on wind energy. North Carolina and Arizona are embracing solar power.