In a video message posted to YouTube, the president-elect said he plans to follow through on pledges to lift regulations on the fossil fuel sector, create “millions” of high-paying jobs, and flout the environmental legacy of President Barack Obama.
“I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high-paying jobs,” Trump said in the video. “That’s what we want, that’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
The video is the latest in a series of Trump proclamations that seem to bode poorly for America’s efforts to address climate change. Trump’s message appeared to be a not-so-subtle dig at Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce power plant emissions, which Trump has vowed to dismantle.
On the campaign trail, Trump made big promises to restore the glory of coal and “end the war on miners.” He tapped a noted climate denier to lead the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency. His potential picks for interior secretary look equally ominous, and he has said he’ll withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement.
Trump’s moves contradict U.S. plans to slash the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, announced by Secretary of State John Kerry last week in Morocco.
Diplomats have warned that if Trump were to withdraw from the Paris accord, America could face a carbon tariff or a trade war.
Environmental groups, ringing warning bells since the election, have noted that Trump’s plans don’t align with booming economics behind renewables and growing international embrace of cooperating against climate change.
“Trump in his energy agenda is very much looking towards the past, towards old ways, and we’ve really moved past that,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, chief program officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We’ve entered an era of progress fighting climate change. The fact that Trump is trying to turn back the clock with coal and shale gas just doesn’t make sense.”
Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said Trump’s energy policy doesn’t seem to recognize that “coal and gas are competing with each other, while clean energy is taking more and more market share while creating jobs all over the country.”
“Trump’s energy policy may work well on bumper stickers, but it will be a disaster in reality,” Hitt told HuffPost in an email.
Climate activist Bill McKibben, founder of the group 350.org, put it simply.
“He’s writing his legacy in his first few weeks: ‘The president who thought climate change was a hoax.’”