Can Trump survive climate change?

The president elect uses climate change as a scapegoat — this can backfire

Trump is not a green guy. He and the republican congress do not adhere to the principles of a conscientious live style. In other words, they won’t do what’s right unless they have to. And that’s ok. In fact, I don’t believe that a Clinton administration would act any different.

When it comes to climate change the fact is that only stuff gets done when someone benefits. This will not change under Trump.

So, let’s look at what Trump might do with regards to climate change.

  1. Solar and Wind subsidies.

There is a production tax credit on such projects and Trump has the power to change them since he controls tax policy. Trump also wants to lower the corporate tax rate which will make it harder to find people who benefit from tax credits.

On the flip side, there are many republican jurisdictions that actually want those policies to stay in place. Trump will need to fight them should he choose to attack tax credits in congress.

2. EV tax credits

Trump can lower incentives for buying an electric car. However, those incentives are going to phase out soon anyway and shouldn’t impact EV production much.

3. Emission standards for IC engines

Washington has power over national emission standards and can impose stricter or less strict rules on incumbents. If Trump chooses to be less stringent on polluting gas guzzling SUVs that will help Fiat, Ford, GM and others and hurt Tesla, Nissan and others.

4. States will fight back

A lot of environmental regulation is actually under state law. If Trump chooses to fight climate change policies, states such as California, Washington and potentially New York could become more aggressive in fighting climate change. Strong people react to bullies by fighting back.

5. Economic realities happen outside of Washington DC

The single most important factor for climate change fighting industries is their cost curves. If Tesla brings down cost of EVs and solar panels enough and keeps performance high, they will win in the market place. The solar industry is already cost competitive in many states. Same as wind. And EVs such as the Tesla Model S and Model X are already much better priced than similarly performing IC competitors. The best thing climate change fighters can do is to keep working on performance and keep bringing down cost.

6. A lawsuit tsunami

The best way to deal with powerful and opposing governments is to fight them in court. The conversation about climate change needs to change from “I don’t believe it’s..” to “you are destroying my air and health. Stop I’ll make sure you pay for that.”

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