Environmentalists’ worst nightmares become reality as Trump’s inauguration grows closer.
Trump’s cabinet consists of a few climate change sceptics including heavyweights such as Rex Tillerson, former chairman of ExxonMobil.
As Senate confirmation hearings unfold, fears are stoked that Trump’s presidency will see a decline in progress on climate change.
Ironically, Scott Pruitt is nominated as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), against which he previously led a lawsuit.
Pruitt has been a long term friend of the energy sector and sued the EPA in an attempt to bolster Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’, a policy limiting carbon pollution from power plants.
The small matter of more than $300,000 in donations from the fossil fuel industry towards Scott Pruitt’s political campaigns perhaps explains his furious resistance.
In his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Pruitt came under heavy fire for promoting the interests of private oil companies in his role as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
He also made the unpopular claim that the relationship between human activity and climate change is ‘subject to continuing debate and dialogue’.
As the pressure grew, Pruitt stated that his personal opinion on climate change is ‘immaterial’ to the job as head of the EPA.
Senator Bernie Sanders responded: ‘you are going to be head of the agency to protect the environment and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?’
‘If that’s the kind of EPA administrator you’ll be, you’re not going to get my vote.’
Despite the energetic debate, it remains likely that Pruitt’s nomination will be confirmed by the Senate with the vote of 51 Republican senators and Democrat senator for West Virginia.
Environmentalists are also concerned about Rick Perry potentially heading the Department of Energy.
The former Texas governor has described global warming as ‘an unproven scientific theory’ and famously wanted to abolish the Department of Energy during his 2012 presidential bid.
The position of Secretary of State will be taken by Rex Tillerson, former chairman of ExxonMobil.
Tillerson does recognise the science of human-caused climate change but Exxon’s work both during and since his stint as CEO certainly doesn’t reflect this responsibility.
His close relationship with Putin is also of concern to many.
Similar interests will surely be protected by prospective Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.
Sessions has responded to challenging questions on global warming by denying the negative impact of increased Carbon Dioxide.
‘Carbon dioxide does not hurt you. We have to have it in the atmosphere. It is what plants breathe. In fact, the more carbon dioxide that exists, the faster plants grow.’
However, all hope is not lost – campaign promises to build ‘The Wall’ and imprison Hilary Clinton have since been diluted.
One can only hope that the burden of responsibility on these individuals and the President Elect will lead to a more enlightened and progressive occupation of The White House.