Weekly wrap: Trump drops facade, reveals true climate intent

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Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's choice for EPA chief (Pic: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


This week he talked climate change with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio, but when it came to the crunch Donald Trump chose a climate sceptic as his environment chief.

Senate will have to approve the appointment of Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt as EPA head in early 2017, but the message is clear: climate laws look set for armageddon.

Green groups were enraged. 350.org called Pruitt a “fossil fuel puppet”. New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he was “dangerous and unqualified”.

Also of interest to Climate Home’s Karl Mathiesen was how Trump played Gore, DiCaprio and the media – a trio of unwitting accomplices in a new era.

High farce

What has become of Australia’s climate policies? A government that tries (unsuccessfully as it happens) to paint itself as a green nation is enduring climate tortures at home.

In 33 hours of madness this week, Malcolm Turnbull’s administration first said it would look at carbon pricing as a policy option, and then witnessed a political bloodbath for doing so.

The result? Energy and environment minister Josh Frydenberg forced onto national radio to say that he didn’t say something that he definitely said, writes Karl Mathiesen.

“We will not be imposing a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, whatever it is called… If you want to ask questions about what another minister said, you should address them to him,” said PM Turnbull.

Coal poleaxed

Polish plans to build a new 1.6GW coal plant are in ruins after a court rules against it.

“The problem is that the completely new power plant will keep us in coal energy for the next 35-40 years,” said Malgorzata Smolak, lawyer with Client Earth, which brought the case in partnership with local NGOs.

Fire bombs

Around the world, communities are living obliviously close to climate-driven fire disaster. Karl Mathiesen reports on the experiences of Australia, Canada and the Mediterranean.

Geoengineering freeze 

Countries really don’t know what to do or think about climate geoengineering, a term that covers solar radiation management, ocean fertilisation and some carbon sucking projects.

At UN biodiversity talks in Cancun – which we billed a “secret climate summit” – nearly 200 governments agreed to kick the can down the road and maintain a freeze on large-scale schemes.

It may make sense to envoys in Mexico, but it’s bonkers when you consider how important techno-fixes like this could be in a warming world, former state department official Andrew Light told us.

“We need to be looking into the full range of activities, especially when we’re talking about the need to move towards net decarbonisation by 2050 or thereafter.”

Africa files

You’ve heard the warnings about millions of climate refugees, but what about the opposite problem? In Kenya, Lou Del Bello reports, extreme weather may be trapping people in vulnerable situations and limiting their movement.

With much of the continent in drought, causing misery and hunger, climate change is generally blamed for an increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazards. But there has yet to be an attribution study clearly linking any one event to global warming. That is about to change. Oxford University researchers are working with Ethiopian and Kenyan institutions towards the first such modelling exercise in the region.

Fiji: Beauty queen appointed as climate ambassador
UK: 145 MPs say don’t use Brexit to kill climate laws
Philippines: Exxon, Chevron face legal probe in 2017
Indonesia: President bans further peatland destruction
EU: Auditors warn bloc will miss climate finance targets
China: Poor data risks integrity of national carbon market
UK: Overseas climate envoys cut from 177 to 149

Read more on: Climate politics