President Donald Trump has led the most anti-climate and anti-clean energy administration in U.S. history.
He has gutted Obama-era clean air rules, appointed climate science deniers to key posts, slashed the budgets for renewable energy development, and he’s the only world leader to start the process of withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Squaring that reality with recent polls that show growing public support for climate action puts his reelection effort in an impossible position. Trump’s 2020 campaign strategy, therefore, will seemingly involve rewriting history — touting nonexistent “climate change victories” while continuing to attack climate science, McClatchy reported Tuesday.
The challenge for the campaign is that Trump, who has long argued climate science is a “hoax,” keeps telling lies so outrageous that few outside his core supporters believe him anymore.
Tuesday evening, for instance, the president was speaking to House Republicans about wind power and bizarrely asserted, “They say the noise causes cancer.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 3, 2019
For the record, the energy source that kills thousands of Americans a year and has actually been linked to cancer clinically is coal. As a January study from the Harvard School for Public Health concluded, “The more a country relies on coal-fired power plants to generate energy, the greater the lung cancer risk is among its citizens.”
Nonetheless, Trump has been trying to resurrect coal and kill climate action for two years. “The most destructive action on Trump’s part,” as climatologist Michael Mann explained to ThinkProgress in January, has been his effort to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, “an agreement that every other country in the world has signed on to.”
So it is jaw-dropping that McClatchy’s story says Trump’s 2020 campaign is looking for “climate change victories” in key states to tout, according to sources close to the campaign. “There’s been a lot of discussion around how easy it would be to be stack up victories on an issue that really matters in states that really matter,” one such source said.
You may be wondering exactly what easy victories on climate the Trump administration could possibly claim, given its disastrous pro-coal, pro-pollution record.
“Topping a list,” reports Michael Wilner, a McClatchy White House correspondent, “is their claim that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased in Trump’s first year in office.” The campaign plans to “argue that private sector innovation — not regulations — have proven under the Trump presidency to be a more effective method of cutting emissions from major industrial sources.”
There is only one small problem with this Orwellian strategy. Carbon pollution from utilities and other industrial sources spiked 3.4 percent in 2018, Trump’s second year in office — the second biggest yearly jump in over 20 years.
Carbon dioxide emissions are now much higher since Trump took office. And everything the administration is currently doing ensures emissions will not decline sharply for the foreseeable future — particularly the efforts to gut Obama-era rules designed to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and cut power plant emissions.
Meanwhile, Trump has been lying nonstop about the Green New Deal, a proposal introduced by Democrats and others to mobilize clean energy fast enough to stop catastrophic climate change. He’s claimed it will cost $100 trillion and mean “no more airplanes, no more cows.” Fact-checkers keep debunking these falsehoods, but even they are overwhelmed by the more than 9,000 false or misleading claims the president has made since taking office.
So just as with other key Trump campaign strategies — such as touting Republicans as the “party of health care” — the plan to persuade the public that Trump has climate change victories to claim is built on a foundation of smoke and lies.