Don Geiger, professor emeritus at the University of Dayton and founder of the Marianist Environmental Education Center, and Leanne Jablonski, the current director and scholar at UD’s Hanley Sustainability Institute, examine a silver maple tree. Due to climate change, the species may drift out of Ohio. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

What will Trump presidency mean for efforts to curb climate change?

Among the many uncertainties with a Trump presidency is what he will do about an issue many consider the globe’s biggest threat. Environmental watchdogs worry that a Trump administration will upend a growing movement toward renewable and clean energy development and efforts to mitigate climate change.

Related: Americans are more divided than ever on climate change

President-elect Trump has called climate change a “hoax invented by the Chinese,” promised to push more coal production, threatened to pull the United States from a global carbon-cutting accord and slash funding for emissions programs, and he says he will dismantle President Obama’s signature clean energy program, which is already stalled in federal court.

“Exercising leadership is not about retreating. It’s about setting a standard for others to follow,” said Jeffrey Bielicki, an energy and environmental policy researcher at Ohio State University. “Part of my concern stems from the lack of any substantive discussions during the race, so that brings with it a fair amount of uncertainty. The vast majority of knowledgeable people accept that we need to deal with the climate. And there are multiple ways to do it and we need to take multiple paths toward doing it.”

Michael Hartley, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council, said Trump’s plans will become clearer as he forms his team, but Hartley is confident the new president will set a path forward that includes alternative energy.

“Let’s let him actually get settled and start putting together his transition team and his administration and we’ll see where we go,” Hartley said. “He’s a business guy. He understands that. Look at some of the things he said in his victory speech. It’s about providing jobs. … He said some things that should be seen as encouraging.”

Follow this link for more voices on whether efforts to curb climate change are in peril.

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