By Guy Edwards
It is June 2016, and things seem to be looking up for Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Argentina has just been approved to fill the G20 presidency in 2018. The US presidential race is heating up, but it seems all but certain that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and sail to victory in November. Macri is feeling optimistic about advancing his international agenda with a like-minded ally.
By Timmons Roberts
While I am far from being a supporter of President Donald Trump, I thought I would like to give a nod to the White House in this post, since they’ve declared this “Energy Week,” with a focus on local and state energy issues. And, with the summer driving season now rolling, what could be more apt than sharing a story about an energy-efficient American car driven by ecologically-minded Americans?
Recently, my wife and I took the leap and leased a Chevy Bolt, a fully-electric car with no gas motor. It’s not a hybrid, but it does go over 240 miles on a charge. What have we learned?
William A. Galston, Samantha Gross, Mark Muro, Timmons Roberts, Rahul Tongia, David Victor, and Philip A. Wallach
This post was originally published shortly before President Trump's announcement on the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, anticipating that outcome. It has since been updated to reflect the decision.
Today, President Donald Trump announced that he will withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. It was adopted in 2015 by 195 nations, with 147 ratifying it—including the United States, which is the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter. Experts offer their analyses on what the decision could mean and what comes next.
William Galston: President Trump’s advisers may have suggested that withdrawing from the Paris climate accord would be a popular move. This is what they told him about the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and he seems to have believed it. This could become yet another self-inflicted wound, because vast majorities of Americans want to remain in the Paris accord, including many of Trump’s own supporters.
In a survey of registered voters taken just weeks after the 2016 election, 69 percent said that the United States should participate in the agreement. This figure included 86 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of Independents, and 51 percent of Republicans. By a margin of 40 to 34 percent, even a plurality of self-described conservative Republicans backed the agreement.
The administration has argued that the Paris Agreement is “unfair” because large polluting countries such as India and China are not required to do anything until 2030. The voters don’t buy this argument. Two-thirds of them—79 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Independents, and 51 percent of Republicans—say that the United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do.
This piece is excerpted from a longer blog post, read more: Paris Agreement enjoys more support than Donald Trump
By Timmons Roberts
The waiting is over: President Donald Trump is apparently pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The vibe at the recent G-7 summit and media speculation over Memorial Day did not bode well. Trump was sharply estranged from U.S. allies in Europe and privately told some insiders that he was planning to pull out of the United Nations climate change accord signed last November in Paris. On climate change, the G-7 declaration was really a G-6 plus G-1: part of paragraph 32 in the communique was dedicated to the U.S. position on climate change, which was at that point still evolving. This was a strong signal: if Trump was going to rededicate the country to the agreement, then he certainly would have done so while across the Atlantic, to soften some of the tensions on display during their meetings.
By Larry Chretien and Timmons Roberts. Originally published on Brookings Planet Policy Blog on May 26, 2017.
A few years ago, we bought a Prius hybrid (Larry), and a diesel Jetta (Timmons). We got great mileage on both, but we couldn’t imagine then how electric vehicles would begin to crack the last tough nut of confronting climate change and cleaning up urban air with genuinely appealing and low-cost options.
For years now, inroads on carbon reduction occurred through the electricity and building sectors, not transport.
Home insulation improved, and coal power plants gave way to natural gas, wind, and solar. But emissions in the transportation sector continued: today, they constitute the biggest source of emissions. And, as nations in Asia and South America develop, the middle class want their cars. Here in the U.S., Americans want their SUVs and trucks.
But as long as cars run on internal combustion engines, we’re falling short on the greenhouse gas emission reductions that we know are required, according to the latest scientific estimates. The venerable Prius will not get us there.
Fortunately, we can ditch gasoline entirely, plug-in our vehicles, and ride our emissions down.
By Timmons Roberts. Originally published on Brookings Planet Policy Blog on May 4, 2017.
While hundreds of thousands of Americans were assembling at the April 29 People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., and at more than 370 “sister marches” around the country and globally, Donald Trump was 100 miles away in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at an election-style rally attended by about 7,000 supporters. After bashing the previous administration on a series of international efforts and saying that he was going to “make a big decision in the next two weeks” on climate change, Trump made two harsh claims about the Paris Agreement: one related to climate financing and the other focused on supposed economic damage to the U.S. from remaining a party to the Paris Agreement.
By Timmons Roberts and Caroline Jones. Originally published on Brookings Planet Policy Blog on February 24 2017.
The Trump administration might think that the United States can’t afford to maintain our pledged contribution to climate aid, but what we really can’t afford is to walk back on that commitment. The real costs of retreating from the Paris climate treaty—the geopolitical, humanitarian, and domestic economic costs—far outweigh the relatively small amount of aid that the U.S. has previously agreed to contribute.
Drive, park, or reverse: What’s the direction for fuel efficiency as Scott Pruitt prepares to take the wheel of the EPA?
By Timmons Roberts. Originally written for Brookings' Planet Policy blog and published on January 18, 2017.
Last week, the Obama administration EPA rushed to legally secure rules on required 2025 average gas mileage standards for car and truck manufacturers, while at the same time auto industry lobbyists pushed the Trump transition team to roll back the “flexible” standards put in place under Obama.
The lobbyists appear to have a receptive ear in incoming Trump administration, but if these standards are weakened or gutted, the result will be a whole new generation of vehicle-buyers saddled with years of high and unstable fuel costs. And even more tragic, a pivotal opportunity to electrify our nation’s vehicle fleet—and make crucial progress in lowering the risks of climate change—will be lost. Here’s why this is so important, and why two contradictory trends reflect a tipping point for our nation, and why Trump and Pruitt’s actions are so important.
Stalled at 25 MPG while Electrics Soar: A Schizophrenic Industry?
The U.S. auto industry has two starkly contradictory trends going on at the same time. On the one hand, electric vehicles are finally going mainstream, with sales up 37 percent in 2016. The new Chevy Bolt was awarded Car of the Year from Motor Trend with its four-door hatchback getting 238 miles on a single charge.
On the other hand, with gas prices seemingly parked below $2.50 per gallon, the majority of American car buyers have again shifted back toward gas-guzzling models like SUVs and trucks, which at the end of 2016 made up nearly 60 percent of all vehicles sold. As a result, the average miles per gallon in the U.S. when weighted for sales completely stopped increasing in the last three years, stalling at 25.1 mpg.
As the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sits down across from the president-elect’s nominee for the head of Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, it’s high noon at the O.K. Corral for the agency’s average fleet fuel economy standards. As the hearing tees off, American car buyers and a huge industry are getting mixed messages on which direction things are going—toward stagnation or greater efficiency
By Guy Edwards and Isabel Cavelier
When President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. was abandoning the Paris Agreement, he not only undermined U.S. national interests but also abdicated the country’s global leadership role on climate change. Latin American countries, which had worked with the Obama administration to reach a new global agreement, have rejected Trump’s position and instead reaffirmed their commitment to the accord.
By Guy Edwards
In the wake of powerful rains that led to devastating floods and mudslides, Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski says the country should expect more such devastating weather events. Peru’s reconstruction from the tragic events of recent weeks can help to prepare for this new reality.
More than 100 people have died and over 150,000 are homeless across vast swaths of the country. Thousands of kilometres of roads and over 240 bridges have been destroyed. The cost of reconstruction is said to be around $6 billion, more than 3% of Peru’s GDP.
CDL in the News
8 Nov 2017 - Roberts quoted in Reuters story on financing loss and damage
9 Oct 2017 - EcoRI article describes Roberts' testimony against the natural gas power plant proposed for construction in Burrillville, Rhode Island
17 Sep 2017 - BBC Radio 5 featured a live interview with Roberts about Trump's conditions for staying in Paris
4 Sep 2017 - Roberts comments on the use of his work in a report by Rhode Island Department of Health on the proposed power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island
17 Jul 2017 - Roberts mentioned in NPR's story on the US having a say in UN climate spending
15 Jul 2017 - Roberts calls for solid climate policies in RI
5 Jul 2017 - Roberts demands swifter action on CO2 release
5 Jul 2017 - Roberts demands RI Governor Raimondo to take climate action
30 Jun 2017 - Roberts gives advice on owning and using electric cars
23 Jun 2017 - Roberts comments on how voters are persuaded by the terms 'climate change' and 'global warming'
20 Jun 2017 - Roberts' involvement in local climate group is helping to fight fossil fuel development
3 Jun 2017 - WPRO Radio's Steve Klamkin interviews Roberts on the Paris Agreement
2 Jun 2017 - Roberts comments on US involvement in the Green Climate Fund
2 Jun 2017 - BBC Radio 5's Faye Rusco interviews Roberts on Trump's withdrawal from Paris
2 Jun 2017 - Roberts discusses the role of mayors and private sector companies post US pull-out of Paris
1 Jun 2017 - Roberts gives more details about the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
1 Jun 2017 - Roberts organizes emergency protest in RI
1 Jun 2017 - Roberts comments on the implications of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
1 Jun 20117 - Roberts share his views on the US exit from the Paris Accord
31 May 2017 - Roberts cited on the far-reaching implications of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
31 May 2017 - RI left vulnerable if US pulls out of Paris Accord, says Roberts
24 May 2017 - Roberts chimes in on Trump's proposed EPA budget
30 Apr 2017 - Roberts helps to 'fact check' Trump's first 100 days in office
25 Apr 2017 - Roberts lobbies for people's march in RI to mark Trump's first 100 days in office
23 Apr 2017 - Roberts cautions against threats to science at march for science in Rhode Island
7 Apr 2017 - White House Chronicle's Llewelyn King interviews Roberts on Trump’s executive order and climate policy directions
10 Mar 2017 - Roberts quoted in Providence Business News about new proposed fossil fuel infrastructure in Rhode Island
6 Feb 2017 - Devex article on climate finance under the new administration quotes Roberts
18 Jan 2017 - Roberts featured in NPR Marketplace segment on Obama's $500m donation to the Green Climate Fund
29 Dec 2016 - Roberts quoted in Common Dreams article about the state of environmental justice in 2016
19 Nov 2016 - EcoRI profiles Roberts and the new Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island
14 Nov 2016 - Roberts featured in Rhode Island Public Radio segment on Trump and the Paris Agreement
12 Nov 2016 - Roberts quoted in Climate Home article on Republican plans to defund climate change programs
10 Nov 2016 - Roberts quote appears in EcoRI article about Trump and the environment
9 Nov 2016 - Roberts quoted in InsideClimate News article on COP22 reaction to Trump's election
9 Nov 2016 - Science Daily discusses new CDL article on paying for loss and damage
9 Nov 2016 - Roberts quoted in Climate Home article on COP22 reaction to Trump's election
8 Nov 2016 - Roberts' paper on paying for loss and damage discussed and quoted in Phys.Org
7 Nov 2016 - Roberts' paper on paying for loss and damage discussed and quoted in Futurity article
21 Sep 2016 - Roberts quoted in a Breitbart News article about Clinton's support following shift in climate change language
20 Sep 2016 - Roberts quoted in a Climate Home article on Clinton's language around climate change after Sanders' endorsement
5 May 2016 – Climate Home quotes Edwards on the announcement that Patricia Espinosa will lead the UNFCCC from this July
5 May 2016 - Dialogo Chino quotes Edwards following announcement that Patricia Espinosa will replace Christiana Figueres as head of the UNFCCC
24 Apr 2016 - Deutsche Welle quotes Edwards on how ratifying Paris Agreement can boost prosperity in Latin America
23 Mar 2016 – Edwards provides extended quote to Dialogo Chino on Obama’s trip to Cuba and Argentina
25 Dec 2015 - ConexiónCOP conversó con Guy Edwards sobre el nuevo acuerdo climático y America Latina
14 Dec 2015 - Rhode Island Public Radio quotes Roberts on how Paris Climate Pact should steer New England toward clean energy
11 Dec 2015 - Associated Press quotes Romain Weikmans on “Wild West” account on climate finance
10 Dec 2015 - Climate Home talks to Roberts about the lack of an independent system on climate finance
The pieces featured in the blog are authored by CDL members and a diverse group of partners from around the world. The opinions expressed in these articles are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not reflect those of Brown University.