It’ll take a minute to get to the climate part of this post–hope you can be patient.
In the US, Republicans spent 8 years opposing almost everything Barack Obama attempted. On some signature issues they failed–witness ObamaCare as an example.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, should Democrats adopt the same course of action? I would argue no. I lost respect for Republicans when they put party ahead of the best outcomes for the country. And I’ve lost enough respect for my party to hope they don’t do the same.
On the other side of the coin, should President Trump try to reconcile with the other side of the fence? We Democrats certainly treated him badly during the campaign, and Trump is famous for holding a grudge–or to be more charitable, he has a long memory when it comes to those who have offended him. His predecessor did try and reach out to Republicans at the beginning of his term, but those efforts… faltered.
We move into 2017 with many Democrats and most members of the climate consensus really, really worried that the progress they (well, we… I am a Democrat and as a Lukewarmer agree with a narrow version of the climate consensus) made in preparing for and fighting against climate change will be tossed overboard the minute Trump is sworn in.
There’s a lot that I will be comfortable saying good-bye to. The Obama administration was guilty of over-reach, and signing the Paris Accords without consulting the Senate was not even smart, let alone proper.
One way of calming both sides would be to offer a win-win scenario. I shall do so here.
The Green coalition (some crazy, many less so) has a lot invested in the success of renewable energy. They perhaps rightly fear that the incoming administration will drop it or reduce support for it. I think they worry overmuch–the new Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry has presided over the conversion of Texas into the largest wind-producing state in the union. He is, by all accounts, pragmatic and willing to adopt innovation.
The Trump team, on the other hand, needs to honor some of the promises they have made on the campaign trail–one of which was to invest in infrastructure. And while in American minds that calls forth images of road and bridge building (and repairing–Lord knows we need a lot of it), in fact building renewables out is not only good infrastructure, it is largely ‘shovel ready,’ in that most projects can move forward as soon as they’re funded. Most would not require massive federal funding–just continuation of existing subsidies, which (despite protests from Republicans and climate skeptics) are relatively modest as a percentage of either government spending or GDP, however you want to calculate it. It would be an inexpensive win for Trump, an olive branch to the opposition and a signal that he recognizes some of the good reasons for moving forward on some fronts in the century-long climate struggle we face.
It will also allow him additional political latitude to free up exploitation of America’s considerable fossil fuel resources, to undo some of what Obama did regarding bans on vast areas for exploring and extracting them and burnish his image as a responsible politician willing to be pragmatic.
Who loses in such a scenario? Besides those who want to paint Trump as a mindless buffoon, nobody.
I’m sure we’ll see criticism of renewables below in the comments. I’m well aware of skeptic arguments against renewables, so keep them to a minimum. What I want to see is discussion of the politics, the optics and most of all the consequences of treating issues as if they were a non-zero sum game. Not every issue has to have a winner and a loser. Sometimes it can benefit all sides.