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State of the Union: The Major Policy President Trump Missed
James Brasuell's blog post on President Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday dealt many aspects of urban planning, including infrastructure, immigration reform, and dismantling the federal bureaucracy.
Brad Plumer, a reporter on The New York Times's climate team, wrote the first piece for Wednesday's "Climate Fwd:" newsletter, on what an "update on the state of American climate policy after one year of the Trump administration...would it look like."
Yes, Trump has clearly been successful in undoing much of his predecessor's accomplishments on climate policy, including dismantling the clean power plan and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, making a clear case for "American Alone" despite his claims to the contrary at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 26.
But here's the good news for those who believe climate change isn't a hoax.
Mr. Trump hasn’t been able to halt many of the most important trends around the country toward lower emissions. Plenty of states, like California and New York, are still pressing ahead with their own local climate policies. The coal industry, responsible for a quarter of the nation’s emissions, continues to shrink, edged out of the energy market by less expensive natural gas despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to save it.
On top of that, the cost of wind and solar continues to drop rapidly as technology advances. Even after Mr. Trump’s recent tariffs on solar imports, more utilities are turning to renewable energy as the lowest-cost source of new power. Electric vehicles are making inroads. Other countries are still crafting an international climate treaty without the United States.
More good news — U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell last year, but the bad news is that this year they will rise, according to the Energy Information Administration.
It’s fair to say that those two broad dynamics — the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks and the stubborn march of clean energy — have fought each other to a standstill.
Sadly, this post ends on a pessimistic note. Plumer warns us that "we’ve reached the point on climate change where a holding pattern is no longer sufficient to give us a decent shot at stabilizing global temperatures this century and avoiding irreversible changes to Earth’s weather patterns."
That’s what makes climate change unlike other policy issues. There’s an unforgiving timeline dictated by physics, and the rate of change matters as much as the direction. In that context, even a temporary impasse can be hugely consequential.