Trump appoints climate sceptics in new administration

This month sees a change in the administration of the US government which seems set to damage its record on reducing climate change emissions, increasing overall energy consumption in its wake.

Despite receiving 2m fewer votes than his main rival, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President on January 20. His term of office lasts until January 2021, if re-elected he could be in power until 2025.

He has described climate change as a “hoax”, perpetrated by the Chinese to damage American industry. Three years ago he took the Scottish government to court, unsuccessfully, for permitting an offshore windfarm to be built, visible on a clear day from his golf course in Fife. He has heavily attacked energy-saving building regulations in New York for apparently reducing the profitability of his speculative property developments.

Trump has populated his Cabinet with elderly men known to subscribe to the myth that a key measure of a country’s prosperity is the amount of fuel it manages to consume.

His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has stepped down from being the boss of Exxon Mobil, the single biggest “purveyor of pollution” in the world. His company has long contributed to shadowy campaigns that seek to undermine confidence in the 97 per cent of qualified scientists who warn about the threat of climate change. The State of New York is currently preparing a prosecution against his company for deliberately distorting evidence it has long held about the truth behind the dangers from climate change.

Joining Tillerson is Rick Perry is the present Texas state Governor, as the new Energy Secretary. He campaigned unsuccessfully to be US President himself in 2012, when he called for the abolition of the department he now heads. While governor he has deliberately required unambitious energy consumption standards for buildings and products, thus ensuring that the Texas energy consumption-to-wealth ratio is far higher than in more progressive states like California. 

Running the Environment Protection Agency, EPA (a cross between our Environment Agency and DEFRA) is Scott Pruitt. As attorney-general of the oil-rich state of Oklahoma, he has been foremost amongst those seeking to block the EPA from implementing former President Obama’s climate change plan. Like Perry he denies that fossil fuel usage has anything to do with changing the climate. Energy efficiency is described as “fuel rationing.”

One-term Montana congressman Ryan Zinke is the new Interior Secretary (equivalent to the Home Secretary). Seven years ago before joining Congress, he signed a letter to President Obama warning him of the “catastrophic” costs and “unprecedented economic consequences” associated with failing to act on climate change, describing it is as a “threat multiplier for instability.” He urged Obama to push through sweeping clean energy legislation. 

But since then Zinke has received big financial support from oil and coal interests, and now claims there is no evidence that rising CO2 levels affected the climate. “It is not proven science”, he told PBS (the US equivalent of the BBC) in 2015, denying climate change was any threat, nor even that it was man-made.

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