After the Trump election as the next president of the USA, many writers, including me, expressed their concern on its implications for international climate policy. This morning, reading that a young woman may lose her arm after police brutality at Standing Rock, I realized that this change in quards probably do not have any real consequences. The Dakota Access Pipeline –project, to which the Standing Rock demonstrations are connected, is a prime example of US climate policy under Obama´s presidency – an enlargement of domestic oil production. Looking back on the Obama´s climate legacy, the Nobel committee should demand him to repay the 2009 Nobel Peace prize, and redirect this money to pay for the medical bills of all injured protesters at Standing Rock.
For international climate policy, the implication of the change of guards in the US means that they probably will drag behind for another four years. For the rest of the world this means that we must increase our own efforts to combat climate change, hoping that the US eventually will follow. I am convinced that, If Trump really is the businessman and job creator, he presents himself to be, he and his administration will eventually follow suit, as they begin to understand that climate change measures promote economic growth and create good jobs.
Charles Weiss and William B. Bonvillian has noted that:
The United States should keep in mind, too, that the economic advantages of leadership in technology have been the source of its wealth and well-being. Is it really in America’s interest to cede leadership of a technological revolution in energy to other countries that now also understand the innovation-based growth model?
The lesson from history on solving earlier international environmental problems is that showing example by your own actions is the only way forward.
The ban on ozone depleting chemicals
The ban on ozone depleting chemicals originated from unilateral actions by Sweden and the United States. By showing example it managed to override the skepticism and unwillingness for legislative actions held by the European Community, the predecessor of the European Union. In the very end, the solution of the problem was much cheaper than predicted, which made it easier for less enthusiastic countries to join the ban on chemicals destructive to the ozonosphere.
In the 1980s, there was a passionate conversation about the acidic rain. At that time Sweden got by his own example and on his initiative first other Nordic countries behind their demands. Active lobbying by Nordic countries led to an international agreement on the reduction of emissions of sulphur dioxide signed 1985 in Helsinki, after which international sulphuric oxide emissions decreased fast.
Germany showed the path towards an energy transition with its Energiewende and fee-in tariff and Denmark had an important role as a first-mover in both onshore and offshore wind power creating both export opportunities and jobs. By 2020 Germany’s entire renewable energy workforce could top 500,000. In scale they are, however, surpassed by China who invested more in renewable energy than all of Europe did in 2013, and it invested more in renewable power capacity than in fossil fuels. Regarding the power of example most delightful is that Africa will add more renewable energy in 2014 than in the last 14 years combined – another tipping point is reached! And India has realized the job creating potential of renewable energy.