Former vice president and longtime environmental activist Al Gore campaigned hard against Donald Trump, saying his election “would take us toward a climate catastrophe.”
But now that Trump will soon be occupying the Oval Office, Gore is extending an olive branch, saying in an online posting this week that he will do everything he can to work with the incoming administration to ensure that the United States remains a leader in combating the harmful effects of global warming.
“President-elect Trump said he wanted to be a president for all Americans,” Gore wrote on the website of the Climate Reality Project, the advocacy group he founded with a mission of helping accelerate the shift from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy. “In that spirit, I hope that he will work with the overwhelming majority of us who believe that the climate crisis is the greatest threat we face as a nation.”
Gore is not naive, of course. His note was like others this week, wishing the new president well and offering to work alongside a Trump administration in the months ahead. But he must realize that Trump isn’t likely to call soon for advice on climate policy.
For starters, Trump is a climate skeptic, who has called the notion of global warming a hoax.
In addition, the “energy independence” section of Trump’s transition website includes ideas that no doubt make Gore and the environmental-advocacy community cringe.
“Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel producers, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters,” the site states. “We will streamline the permitting process for all energy projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama, and rescind the job-destroying executive actions under his Administration. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration.”
Trump also has vowed to scrap President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which outlines actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase energy efficiency around the country. He has promised to “cancel” U.S. participation in the landmark Paris climate agreement, a move scientists and activists say could undermine international efforts to slow global warming. And he wants to gut the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, the key regulatory attempt to slash carbon emissions domestically and speed up the move toward cleaner sources of energy.
The transition site does say that Trump is “firmly committed to conserving our wonderful natural resources and beautiful natural habitats.” But there are no specifics on what that might mean, other than “America’s environmental agenda will be guided by true specialists in conservation, not those with radical political agendas.”
Last month, in a Miami rally with Hillary Clinton, Gore implored voters to consider the candidates’ vastly different approaches to climate change, which he called a top national and global priority.
“The world is on the cusp of either building on the progress and solving the climate crisis, or stepping back, washing our hands of America’s traditional role as the leader of the world and letting the big polluters call the shots,” Gore said then. “The choice is that clear. It’s that stark. The consequences for not just our children and grandchildren and future generations, but for all of us, are really quite significant. . . . We must have a president who gets it, who cares about it, who’s internalized it, who’s passionate about it.”
Gore alluded to his razor-thin loss in Florida 16 years earlier and warned those concerned about climate change not to be complacent.
“Elections have consequences,” he said. “Please take it from me: Every single vote counts.”
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