Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Climate Protests are at the Heart of Growing Resistance to Trump

Climate concerns are at the core of an intensifying barrage of protests against Trump and his administration. In the face of the Orwellian nightmare of this government, the only sane response is resistance. There is no avoiding the fact that Trump's first 14 months in office have been an unprecedented disaster. Little more than one third of Americans approve of Trump and he is considered by experts to be the worst president in American history. Common sense dictates that Trump's rule must be challenged at every turn.

Protests against this administration are both necessary and appropriate. When Trump is not being challenged he is simply being ignored. No one paid him much attention when the G20 met in July and the same can be said when world leaders met for the Bonn Climate Talks in November.

However, people are doing far more than just ignoring this administration. They seem to be heeding the maxim that all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. People have realized that protest is an important way of combating Trump's dystopia.

Widespread and growing

The resistance movement has been energized by Trump's litany of malfeasance. The widespread opposition to Trump's dysfunctional rule comes from, world leaders, subnational governments, scientists, environmentalists, women and children. Others like Mustafa Ali have chosen to resign from government to voice their protest (Ali was the head of the Office of Environmental Justice). There have been hundreds of similar resignations.

Trump's victory spawned unprecedented protests. On the day Trump was inaugurated the protests began and a year later the scope of protest appears to be growing. 

Resistance to the Trump administration and the GOP is a large and growing phenomenon. It takes place against the backdrop of Special Prosecutors Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into a wide range of criminal wrongdoing that appears to be getting ever closer to Trump himself.

Women leading the charge

Trump's sexism is legendary as are the long list of complainants that have come forward to report allegations of sexual abuse against the president. This tidal wave of resistance takes place against the backdrop of the ME TOO movement which has empowered women to step forward and report abuse. 

Just after Trump was inaugurated women were among the first to organize massive protests. To commemorate his first year in office there were protest actions across the country, Americans turned out in record numbers to let the president know that his days are numbered. As white conservatives paid $100,000 per couple to celebrate Trump's first anniversary, millions of people, mostly women, marched to protest the most unpopular president in the history of the United States. Protestors gathered in cities and towns all across North America carrying signs like "grab him by the midterms".

Women are leading the resistance movement. Last year 86 percent of the calls to members of Congress were made by women. Female candidates, including women of color, immigrants and trans, were elected in "Trump country". Almost 2.5 million people came out for the second annual Women’s March to fight for women’s rights, reject Trump and the Republican agenda. In 2018 women are competing in every congressional district. This is not just a one day march this is a movement.

Coalitions of opposition

Broad coalitions of groups that are coming together to oppose the Trump administration. Subnational governments are working with businesses and civil society as part of big tent coalitions that are intent on resisting the policy agenda of the commander and chief.

There was widespread resistance to Trump's decison to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. A number of powerful coalitions are focused on resisting Trump's decision to quit Paris. This includes the United States Climate Alliance, Citzens Climate Lobby and a movement called "We Are Still In". This movement was organized by climate champion Michael Bloomberg. It includes 1,800 businesses and investors, 252 cities and nine states.

Trump's decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement prompted leaders of US states to come together during the United Nation's General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2017 to pledge their support for the goals set forth at COP21. This is the first time the governors have played such an active role at the UNGA.

"You have allies in the United States. You shouldn’t put your foot on the brake or even tap it just because we have a climate denier in the White House. You’re not alone", Washington Governor Jay Inslee told world leaders at UNGA.

One of the leading organizations combating Trump's climate denial is America's Pledge. This is a coalition that supports the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, it is comprised of more than 2,500 non-federal actors  across America, including states, counties, cites, businesses, universities and universities. Together they are taking action to fight climate change, grow the economy, and protect public health.  This group wants to ensure that the US remains a global leader in emissions reduction. This is no small coalition, together they represent more than half the US economy. When pooled together their combined economic output would make them the world's third largest country. America's Pledge is led by California Governor Jerry Brown and UN Special Envoy on Cities and Climate Michael Bloomberg.

Renewables as protest

Support for renewable energy is both a practical approach to combating climate change and a way of refuting Trump's irrational energy policy. His disdain for renewables and affinity for fossil fuels is harmful to both people and the planet. 

"The trend is very clear...To fight Trump, the investment and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency have continued growing." Alden Meyer, director of strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists said at the end of last year.

Climate science expert Michael Mann and others believe that the increasing use of renewables will enable the US to achieve its emission reduction commitments even though Trump has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement.

Protest in Trump country

Even in places where Trump enjoyed strong support people are protesting and expressing their displeasure with this administration. We have seen a string of Democrats beat Republicans in state elections. This includes red states like Virginia and Kentucky. A House District vote in Kentucky went from being 73 percent Trump in 2016 to having a Democrat by the name of Linda Belcher win by the same margin a year later.

People are not only protesting at the ballot box. In the Trump-friendly West Virginia state workers including teachers walked off the job to protest Trump's love for coal. These workers want to know why the coal industry gets so much government support and they don't. Each week they are going to the state capital to vent their frustration. Some of the thousands of protesters that descended on Charleston chanted, "We'll remember in November!".

Democrats AND Republicans are resisting

Three freshman Democratic House members announced that they had formed the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force. Nanette Diaz Barragán of California, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Donald McEachin of Virginia pledged to fight to protect the fundamental rights of all Americans to clean air and water. 

Republicans are also voicing their displeasure at the Trump administration. Environmental budgets have been slashed by this administration affecting operations all across the country.  Pushback from Trump's own party comes from a number of places including Ohio where Sen. Rob Portman is resisting the Trump administration's proposal to slash local cleanup efforts as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. "We have a fight on our hands," Portman told local leaders. It seems Portman had made a deal to support Pruitt as head of the EPA in exchange for a pledge of ongoing funding.

In a display of bipartisanship, Portman has joined an alliance to retain Great Lakes funding that includes lawmakers from Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. There is also a bipartisan congressional coalition dedicated to protecting funding for Chesapeake Bay.

We must keep fighting for a better world because there is so much at stake. Although these are dark times, the broad spectrum of resistance gives us reason to hope.

Corporate America Resists Trump and Embraces Sustainability

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