Monday 26 June 2017

Obama presses Trump not to back away from clean energy

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office.(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office.(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama says the adoption of clean energy in the US is "irreversible", putting pressure on Donald Trump not to back away from a core strategy to fight climate change.

President Obama, writing an opinion article in the journal Science, sought to frame the argument in a way that might appeal to the president-elect: in economic terms.

He said the fact that the cost and polluting power of energy have dropped at the same time proves that fighting climate change and spurring economic growth are not mutually exclusive.

"Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States," Mr Obama wrote.

He peppered his article with apparent references to President-elect Trump, noting that the debate about future climate policy was "very much on display during the current presidential transition".

As he prepares to transfer power to Mr Trump, President Obama has turned to an unusual format to make his case to the president-elect to preserve his policies: academic journals.

In the last week, Mr Obama also published articles under his name in the Harvard Law Review about his efforts on criminal justice reform and in the New England Journal of Medicine defending his health care law, which Republicans are poised to repeal.

The articles reflect an effort by President Obama to pre-empt the arguments Mr Trump or Republicans are likely to employ as they work to roll back his key accomplishments in the coming years.

Yet it is unclear whether Mr Trump or the GOP could be swayed by arguments in relatively obscure publications.

In Science, President Obama argued that as the cost of clean energy sources like solar and wind drop, businesses are independently coming to the conclusion that it makes financial sense to wean themselves off of coal and other dirtier fuels.

He also said that if President-elect Trump pulls out of the global emissions-cutting deal struck in Paris that Mr Obama helped broker, the US would "lose its seat at the table" on global climate policy.

President Obama said a key advantage of the US political system is that each president determines his or her own policies.

"President-elect Donald Trump will have the opportunity to do so," Mr Obama wrote.

"The latest science and economics provide a helpful guide for what the future may bring."

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