Like me, you likely woke up before sunrise this morning, opening your eyes in the dark to confirmation that the nightmare is real.
Like you, last night I felt sick to my stomach. I felt a strong sense of anxiety for my sleeping children, who also went to bed anxious. What future will we be leaving them?
I’m writing to you today because I need you to know that this new obstacle will not stop us. I need you to hear the truth — that we are millions, that we will not abandon our values of justice and inclusion, or ever stop working to protect all life on Earth.
Let me be clear: The election of Donald Trump and a Congress controlled entirely by the Republican party and the fossil fuel industry is devastating to the fight against climate change. We can expect this new president to quickly approve Keystone XL, get rid of regulations on coal that were central to Obama’s climate plan, and slow down or eliminate investments in renewable energy. We can also expect that he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as he can. This will likely prevent the United States from reaching its emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2025. It will also put attaining the larger Paris objectives into serious question.
But Trump can’t stop an energy transition that has become inevitable. The most he can do is slow it down. Here’s why:
Investments in renewable energy have surpassed investments in fossil fuels every year since 2010, and the gap continues to grow. Two times more money was invested in green energy than in fossil fuels in 2015. This transformation is happening because green energy is finally more competitive than fossil fuels in many markets — even without measures to fight climate change.
From California to New York, American states and cities are putting a price on carbon, investing in renewable energy and in transit. This trend will only continue. China is making similar efforts, recently announcing its intention to lower emissions per unit of GDP by 18 per cent by 2020.
In the transportation sector, studies show electric vehicles will achieve price parity with gas vehicles in five years, by 2022. EV sales have already increased six-fold since 2014. Analysts say this exponential increase could cause a collapse in gas sales early in the next decade.
The global movement against climate change is not going to stop. Citizen actions, including many acts of non-violent civil disobedience, will continue to become more common all across the United States. This is true in Canada as well. We need to show solidarity with our American counterparts and with Indigenous people who are bravely defending their land and our collective future.
Powerful solidarity will come from winning battles here, in our own backyard, to prove that winning is still possible. What’s at stake is not whether the energy transition will happen. It’s how quickly it will arrive, and whether it will be fast enough to save our climate.
It’s in our hands.
That’s why we cannot give up. Instead, we need to redouble our efforts and create a groundswell. We need to bend like a willow and be as strong as an oak.
Donald Trump can set the fight against climate change back years or even decades. But he hasn’t done it yet.
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