Things to Be Thankful For
Despite the Trump Administration’s efforts, there are rays of hope.
Three years into the Trump Administration, we’re now accustomed to waking up every morning to learn about a new attack on the environment. But there are also some things to be thankful for.
Here’s how I started a similar post in 2017, just a year after the 2016 election:
“Overall, it’s been a pretty lousy year since last Thanksgiving. If you care about the environment, there are a lot of things NOT to be thankful for, or rather one big thing in the form of He Who Must Not Be Named. But there are also some things for which we should feel thankful, many of them involving resistance to You Know Who.”
In large strikes, that remains pretty much true now.
I then followed up with a list of things to be thankful for. I thought it would be fun to follow up to see where we are on these things two years later. Here goes:
- Nicaragua and Syria have joined the Paris Agreement, leaving the U.S. as the only outlier. Fortunately, as of two years later, no other country has followed Trump’s lead and announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
- Some countries and car companies have announced plans to phase out gasoline vehicles. This trend has continued. Just a few weeks ago, Mercedes Benz announced that after its latest model rolls off the assembly lines, it will design no more internal combustion machines. Trump has dismayed car companies with his plans to roll back fuel efficiency standards, and several went so far as to enter into a voluntary agreement with California to continue to follow stricter standards.
- The new governors of New Jersey and Virginia are committed to fighting climate change. New Jersey has now adopted an ambitious plan of action. Action in Virginia has been hampered by resistance from the GOP-controlled legislature.
- Tens of thousands of Americans have lined up to support environmental groups opposing You Know Who’s Administration. Public opinion polls show a substantial shift in public opinion toward recognizing the seriousness of climate change in U.S.. Millions turned out around the world for the climate strike in September.
- States from California to New York have strengthened their own climate change policies in direct response to the Administration. New York has now come forth with a particularly strong plan of action. But it’s far from alone. New Mexico and Minnesota are adopting California’s vehicle emission standards.
- China and the EU have remained firm in their support for the Paris Agreement. This still remains very much true. China has entered into a new cooperative effort with the University of California to find new ways to reduce carbon.
- The courts seem determined to rigorously review Administration actions. The Trump Administration has been reversed in case after case in their efforts to hurry the rollback process. Now that they’ve finalized rollback rules through the normal, slow-moving administrative. The threat of judicial review seems to have slowed down some initiatives, such as a new definition of federal jurisdiction under the Clean War Act and new (and weaker) fuel efficiency standards for cars.
- China is about to announce its cap-and-trade plan, and may already have reached peak coal use. China didn’t move as quickly as many were hoping but still seems serious about addressing climate change
- Solar and wind prices are continuing to fall, making coal less and less competitive. Coal has continued to struggle, with no sign whatsoever that Trump has sparked any real revival. For instance, in Texas, renewables are projected to outstrip coal in 2020.
- There’s another presidential election in three years. And now this should read, “in less than one year.” Democratic candidates have announcd plans for major climate action, up to and including the Green New Deal. What if anything will come of these plans remain un known — but a year from now we’ll know a lot more.
Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…READ more