Council Experts Election Reaction: Climate Change

At the top of the presidential agenda should be climate change and aggressively meeting the goal set out at COP21, at the Paris Agreement, and in particular meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This is not the sort of problem that’s easy for us to solve as human beings because the causes of it are diffused, the effects of it are diffuse, they are drawn out over a long period of time. And so it requires a lot of collective action at the global level, but it’s nevertheless a very real existential threat to life as we understand it on this planet. So I would recommend that we continue to lead on this issue as a nation, because if we don’t get out ahead of this stuff and show that, as the one of the largest carbon producers on the planet, we are leading on it, nobody else will follow and the problem will basically be unsolvable. The polls show that Americans have steadily become more and more concerned about this issue, even though there’s a wide difference between the way Republicans and Democrats prioritize it. A growing percentage of each has expressed concern and think that some action needs to be taken.

And I would hate to see that all of the gains that we’ve made so far and being a leader in joining the climate agreement, I would really hate to roll that back. I think a way forward would be possibly not to focus on the cause, the root cause, of climate change because there’s a big disagreement on whether it’s man-made or not – especially, again, a partisan difference on that – but that majorities do think technology is part of the issue. And they support attaining energy independence. And I think putting possible solutions forth, which would also create some green jobs, might be a way to bridge the differences. Another thing for the president-elect to look at is simply the economic opportunities from climate change. The industries around renewables and efficiency are global and they’re growing. We should be leading. We have led significant, historically. There’s a huge opportunity going forward. So as he looks for that long term job creation, the infrastructure play will be critical and investments in technologies will keep America at the forefront of the issues that will grow over time..