The election of 2016 is over, and now we are preparing for the reality that Donald Trump will be our next President. Based on Mr. Trump’s written statement about his first 100 days and other campaign rhetoric, it is reasonable to assume that he intends to reverse policies and reduce government funding that insure against the worst economic, physical, and social impacts of a changing climate. His decisions in the area of energy thus far, such as the appointment of Myron Ebell (a well-known climate change skeptic) to lead the US EPA transition team, seem to support his rhetoric.
Many Americans have expressed alarm at the reality we are facing. But it is important to transform any negative feelings into resolve. If we could be part of the discussions about the transition of power with President Obama and Mr. Trump this week, we would urge them to remember several points:
- That the United States Department of Defense (DoD) has determined that climate change poses significant risks to US interests globally. The DoD has stated that “climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.”
- That world and industry leaders are on an irreversible path away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy resources. Straying from this path will have devastating economic repercussions in the coming years, as more and more fossil fuel assets become stranded.
- That given the dramatic shifts occurring in energy worldwide, investment in the areas of renewables could result in significant investment and employment opportunities that could benefit millions of Americans across the entire country.
- That in light of the above points, the United States has shown remarkable leadership in the area of climate change, and that moving in a different direction now will mean stepping out of that leadership role.
As we write this, world leaders are meeting at COP22 in Marrakech to finalize the details for implementing the Paris Agreement. No one there has any plans to wait for Donald Trump or the United States. Regardless of whether Mr. Trump continues to turn his regressive rhetoric into action, other countries will set a price on carbon, reduce emissions, and invest in clean energy solutions.
Almost four years ago, we founded FFI because the facts demonstrated that risks from climate change could have a devastating effect on our financial systems as well as our ecosystems and on communities around the world. In order to act on this reality, we have been working to empower investors large and small to mitigate climate risks while managing portfolio risk. There is no doubt that the election of Mr. Trump poses challenges. But the facts related to climate change still speak for themselves, the international community will continue to act based on those facts, and we will continue to provide the highest-quality tools and data possible to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.