James Shaw thinks he is saving the planet but China doesn’t care, neither does India nor Trump

While James Shaw is grandstanding and wanting to implement policies that see our economy grind to a halt, so we can take a leadership stance on climate change, Donald Trump is saying drill, baby drill.

One way to interpret what the Trump Administration is up to with its absurd denials of climate science is as a play for time. Someday, the world will have to get serious about climate change, and at that point fossil-fuel use will have to decline dramatically. Whatever the Administration can do to put off that day will benefit American producers of fossil fuels. In a world where energy demand is continuing to rise, many tens of billions of dollars stand to be made.

However incompetent the Administration may be in other realms, it has proven itself remarkably adept in this one. As David Roberts put it, in Vox, “Trump has been erratic and unpredictable in many ways, but when it comes to fossil fuels, there is no wavering.” Consider, for example, the Paris Agreement. The accord, forged with the help of President Barack Obama at cop21, is not, by itself, going to halt the rise in emissions. But, if countries abide by its provisions, investment in fossil fuels will, sooner rather than later, have to start to drop. The Trump Administration has tried to insure that this doesn’t happen by announcing its intention to withdraw from the accord. Last week, Syria announced that it would sign the agreement, leaving the United States the only country in the world to decline to participate. (“We have even been surpassed by a country embattled by civil war,” Slate noted.)

Here at home, the Administration has promoted fossil fuels so aggressively that, at times, its efforts have bordered on self-parody. A comprehensive list of its fossil-fuel-boosting activities would fill several Web posts; here are just a few highlights:

In April, the President signed an executive order aimed at expanding offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The order also directs the Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, to review the country’s marine sanctuaries, with an eye toward opening them to energy exploration.

In July, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that his department will hold more frequent lease sales on public lands, and cut the time required to obtain a drilling permit.

In August, the Department of Energy issued a report calling for changes in the way that energy markets are regulated, which would funnel money to the coal industry.

Next month, the President is expected to announce that he is cutting the size of Bears Ears National Monument, in southeastern Utah, by almost a million acres, or roughly ninety per cent. The land removed from protection could then be leased for drilling. “The ship of state is about to be turned into the Exxon Valdez,” Dan Becker, the director of the Safe Climate Campaign, told the Washington Post.

What’s key about all these moves is that they will lead to more investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure. Once a new offshore oil platform or natural-gas well is completed, it’s likely to live out its useful life. (Call it establishing facts in the ground.) At events like cop23, this is known as “lock in”; the more fossil-fuel infrastructure that gets built, the more carbon emissions get “locked in.” Whatever happens (or doesn’t) this week in Bonn, the Trump Administration and its cronies in the fossil-fuel industry—the two groups are, admittedly, often interchangeable—are making it that much harder to curtail emissions. The future that’s being “locked in” looks increasingly grim.

The future that is grim is one without the very thing that makes economies work, and that is fossil fuels. Wankers like the Greens want to stop progress. Donald Trump is trying to get his country out of recession. People want jobs, and are sick of the caterwauling and junk science promulgated by climate scientists.

-New Yorker

 


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