Without wanting to get mired in a political morass there is little doubt that the four years of the Trump administration in the USA was a severe set-back for the fight against climate change. It is somewhat reassuring how swiftly action can be taken when there is true political will. In a recent article by Oliver Milman in The Guardian titled, “Dizzying pace of Biden’s climate action sounds death knell for era of denialism.” the author explores the raft of Executive Orders issued by the new administration to reverse the Trump catastrophe.
Not everyone however is focussed on the benefits of a healthy environment. As explained in the article:
Biden is yanking every possible governmental lever, it seems, to lower emissions but is also cognisant of attacks from Republicans, and unease among some unions, that ditching projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline will kill jobs. Battle lines have already formed – Republicans are trying to prevent any halt to drilling, with Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, vowing to “protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack launched from Washington DC”.
This is very familiar territory for us in South Africa where despite admirable environmental legislation the Government gleefully continues to invest in “dirty” industries linked to coal, oil and gas extraction, considering fracking in our most sensitive water catchments and open cast mining next door to world heritage sites.
The battle for the environment should not be framed in “job losses” but rather in “jobs created” as explained by Milman:
“The counter to this backlash will be framed around jobs. Those who know Biden say the president views the climate crisis as a destabilising threat to American might and national security but also an opportunity to create employment in a Covid-ravaged economy. “When I think of climate change I think of jobs,” has become a Biden slogan.
The president argues a $2tn clean energy plan will bring millions of new jobs by refashioning the power grid to run on carbon-free sources such as solar and wind within 15 years, building a new generation of energy-efficient homes and electric cars and mopping up pollution from oil and gas wells.
Hopefully the tide of change being generated now by the USA will move South Africa to change course in favour of the environment.
You can read the full Guardian article by clicking here.