Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump belittled the concerns of environmentalists and derided the Environmental Protection Agency as an unruly bureaucracy whose regulations made it “impossible for our country to compete” in the global economy. Trump also renounced the historic Paris climate change agreement, and regularly whipped up support for the waning coal industry. He even noted defiantly that global warming was “created by and for the Chinese.” So when Trump unexpectedly triumphed over Hillary Clinton, environmental activists essentially held their breath in horror.
This fear was merely amplified after the New York real-estate mogul named former Oklahoma attorney general and climate-change denier Scott Pruitt as head of the E.P.A., an agency that he built his career, in part, on trying to destroy, and subsequently issued an executive order intended to roll back several key Obama-era climate-change regulations.
Fortunately, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, a longtime environmental activist and former executive of the Sierra Club, proffer a more optimistic outlook. In their new book, Climate of Hope, Bloomberg and Pope argue that the onus of saving the planet doesn’t just fall on Washington but rather local communities, businesses, and individuals. Bloomberg spoke with the Hive about his book and how Trump’s victory doesn’t necessarily bring an end to America’s leadership on climate change.
Vanity Fair: Your book focuses on curtailing global warming at the urban level rather than a global scale, but how detrimental would it be, in your opinion, if Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accords?
Michael Bloomberg: If the Trump administration pulls out of the Paris agreement, some foreign leaders may say: “Well, we’ll pull out too.” But that would be a misunderstanding of what’s actually happening in the U.S. Even if Trump pulls us out of the agreement, the U.S. is still positioned to meet its commitment—because cities, businesses, and citizens will all continue driving down emissions. Washington won’t determine the fate of our ability to meet our Paris commitment—cities, businesses, and citizens will. What a tragedy it would be if the world’s failure to understand that led to an unraveling of the agreement. We hope this book will help to correct that wrong impression, and help save the Paris deal.
Read the full Q&A on VanityFair.com