By Anders Lorenzen
Many might be surprised when Donald Trump time after time has tried to defend his record on the environment. Why would someone who does all in his power to prevent environmental protection and halt any action to combat climate change, by saying that in fact, he wants to protect it?
It seems that he, in fact, has no idea what environmentalism actually means.
At last weekend’s G7 gathering, he did not attend a meeting that discussed climate change and biodiversity. Trump explained why he was not present, by saying that he did not know what time the meeting was taking place. He then went on to say: “I want the cleanest water on Earth. I want the cleanest air on Earth. And that’s what we’re doing. And I’m an environmentalist, a lot of people don’t understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements probably than anybody that’s … ever been president. And I think I know more about the environment than most people.”
What’s remarkable about that statement is that Trump thinks it makes him an environmentalist, because he has information about the environment and has conducted environmental impact studies. Trump, as a property developer, would be required to by law to make environmental impact statements. We know that businessman Trump has done everything in his power to weaken environmental regulations, through lobbying politicians and bribing them. We know that in relation to his Scottish golf course near Aberdeen it is believed he received quite extraordinary help from the then First Minister, Alex Salmond. He overturned the local council who had rejected the project. As a result, Trump did not uphold environmental protection promises made and following the completion of the project, ecologists said that the environmentally sensitive sand dunes could lose their conservation status.
Trump also constantly conflates the issues of climate change and protecting the environment. When he is criticised for not tackling climate change, one of his favourite replies is “I have won many environmental awards”. He would of course not shed any light on what these so-called awards were, who gave them to him and why he received them. And even if he had received such awards, they have nothing to do with tackling climate change.
In Trump’s statement, he also came back to one of his favourite subjects in attacking wind turbines or windmills as he prefers to call them. He makes fabricated claims that wind farms are increasing the chances of power cuts, which will weaken the US economy. There are, of course, no facts which can back that up. In fact, coal and gas power plants are a lot more likely to create power cuts and are more inefficient to run and thus more costly for the US economy. And in fact, economists widely share the belief that if we don’t take drastic action on climate change now, we will pay a very hefty financial price in the future for that inaction.
So, no, Trump is not an environmentalist, and doesn’t even know what that word means. And as CNN’s Daniel Dale pointed out, the fact you have produced an environmental impact statement does not make you an environmentalist, it simply shows that you, in this instance, complied with the law.