Quantcast
Climate

Dr. Michael Mann on Paris and Clean Power Plan: 'We’re Seeing Real Movement'

Climate Reality recently chatted with world-renowned climatologist and geophysicist Dr. Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, ahead of our Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the training, Dr. Mann participated in the panel "Our Changing Storms."


Below, Dr. Mann discusses Scott Pruitt's attempt to repeal America's Clean Power Plan and how nothing will stop the transition to clean, renewable energy.

Climate Reality: The Trump administration recently announced its intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan. Could you please speak to the importance of emissions regulations in the fight for climate solutions?

Dr. Michael Mann: The Clean Power Plan, first of all, demonstrated good faith on the part of the United States in meeting our obligations to the world community in combatting the climate change problem. It gave us the leverage to achieve a very important bilateral agreement with China a few years ago, by [President] Barack Obama. And, of course, it set the stage for the monumental progress that we saw in Paris. So the U.S. was able to go into those negotiations with quite a bit of credibility because it was demonstrating a willingness to act in a meaningful way on this problem—through the Clean Power Plan, through the Obama era regulations on automobile efficiency and clean energy standards, and incentives for renewable energy.

What we're seeing right now, it isn't just the dismantling of the environmental policy success of the last administration, the Obama administration. We are seeing the dismantling of policies that were put in place by both Republican and Democratic administrations over the past half century. It's unprecedented. It's catastrophic. It's, as far as I'm concerned, clearly impeachable. [EPA Administrator] Scott Pruitt has violated the public faith by acting on behalf of polluting interests rather than the people he is supposed to represent.

Climate Reality: Realistically, what sort of regulation at the Federal and State levels do you believe is necessary to effectively mitigate climate change?

Dr. Michael Mann: The irony is that we may well meet our obligations under the Paris treaty, even with the current administration playing an adversarial role. That's simply because of all of the progress that we are seeing now at the state level, at the municipal level thanks to efforts by folks like Al Gore to really mobilize the American people on this issue.

I think we're seeing real movement, and I think we're seeing so much movement that there's really nothing that the polluting interests can do to stop the transition that's underway. All they can do is try to slow it down. If they can slow it down, well, they can make more fossil fuel profits in the meantime.

What they're really worried about are stranded assets—you know, all of the fossil fuels that they currently have on their bank sheets. So their agenda is to try to extract and sell as much fossil fuels as they can before the inevitable happens—before the global transition that's underway ultimately leads us away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy.

That transition is happening anyways. We may well meet our obligations under the Paris treaty, even without any support from the administration or from the Congress. That having been said, it makes it tougher, obviously, for us to meet our reduction targets, and it slows down that necessary transition.

Ironically, it puts the U.S. in a less competitive position. The rest of the world recognizes that the future of our global economy will be in renewable energy. That's the great economic revolution of this century. And what Trump and those whose agenda he's advancing are doing is holding us back as the rest of the world moves on, and guaranteeing that we lose out in this economic race.

It's really misguided on multiple levels. It's misguided on an environmental level because, ultimately, it means more degradation of the planet. It means increased risks for the American people when it comes to food and water and health and national security. But it also means that we lose out in terms of our international competitiveness as a nation.

We'll still get there. But it will slow that progress down a bit, much to our detriment—and much to the world's detriment. Because the fact is, every ton of carbon that we put into the atmosphere does additional damage, and we want to emit as little carbon as we possibly can.

As Dr. Mann makes clear, there's no mystery what's happening to our planet. And there's no mystery about how we solve this crisis by switching from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed America's Clean Power Plan to accelerate this shift and cut the dirty power plant emissions driving climate change. But now, fossil fuel interests leading EPA want to repeal the Clean Power Plan and take us back to the dark days of dirty energy.

We're not about to just sit back and let that happen. If you're ready to act, join us and thousands of others by adding your comment in support of America's Clean Power Plan.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Women fetching water in India. Pixabay

India Suffers 'Worst Water Crisis in Its History'

India is facing its "worst-ever" water crisis, according to a report from a government think tank issued last week.

Around 200,000 Indians die each year due to lack of water access, the report finds, and demand will be twice as much as supply by 2030.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
daryl_mitchell / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Urban Gardening 101: How to Deal With Contaminated Soil

By Brian Barth

Urban soils are particularly prone to contamination. Fifty years ago, your yard could have belonged to a farmer, who, perhaps not knowing any better, disposed of old bottles of anti-freeze or contaminated diesel in a hole out behind the tractor garage. Or perhaps the remains of a fallen down outbuilding, long ago coated in lead-based paint, was buried on your property buy a lazy contractor when your subdivision was built.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
High-tide flooding in Miami, FL, a state that could lose more than 10 percent of its residential properties to chronic flooding by 2100. B137 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sea Level Rise Could Put 2.4 MIllion U.S. Coastal Homes at Risk

More than 300,000 U.S. coastal homes could be uninhabitable due to sea level rise by 2045 if no meaningful action is taken to combat climate change, a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study published Monday found.

The study, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods and the Implications for U.S. Coastal Real Estate, set out to calculate how many coastal properties in the lower 48 states would suffer from "chronic inundation," non-storm flooding that occurs 26 times a year or more, under different climate change scenarios.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate

NASA Climate Scientist Warned Us About Warming 30 Years Ago

Climate science marks a troubling anniversary this week: in June of 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen told Congress that global warming had already begun to affect the world and would only get worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Pixabay

4 Ways You Can Make a Difference on Climate

By Jaime Nack

"Where do I start?"

Whatever the forum, whatever the audience, it's always the first question I hear when I talk to people about sustainability and personal impact.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Minnesota Senate Building solar array ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 10. MN Administration / CC BY 2.0

U.S. Sees Steady Solar Growth Despite Trump, But China Slashes Subsidies

By Andy Rowell

Donald Trump can't stop the sun from shining. Despite the climate denier's pro-fossil fuel agenda, and despite his tariffs on imported solar panels, the U.S. still installed more solar than any other source of energy in the first quarter of the year.

The amount of solar power installed in the U.S. climbed 13 percent in the first quarter, according to the trade body, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
frankieleon / CC BY 2.0

How a Minor Change to EPA Rules Could Slash Environmental Protection

By Joseph Aldy

Since the Reagan administration, federal agencies have been required to produce cost-benefit analyses of their major regulations. These assessments are designed to ensure that regulators are pursuing actions that make society better off.

In my experience working on the White House economic team in the Clinton and Obama administrations, I found cost-benefit analysis provides a solid foundation for understanding the impacts of regulatory proposals. It also generates thoughtful discussion of ways to design rules to maximize net benefits to the public.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
E. Kahl / National Park Service

America’s Most Obscure Desert Is in Alaska

By Michael Engelhard

Time slipping, a tabula rasa. Footprints erased, slopes advanced, ripples unsculpted. A whole world recast by whims of weather. Besides snowfields and foreshores, few landscapes appear so clean-cut and subtle. Here, emptiness is the main attraction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!