Trump Compares His Environmental Record to Teddy Roosevelt

The Trump presidency has been nothing short of a disaster for the environment and climate action. However, yesterday during a speech in the swing state of Florida where he announced an expansion of the ban on oil drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, Trump touted himself as the No. 1 environmentalist

“Number one since Teddy Roosevelt. Who would have thought, Trump is the great environmentalist?” he said. “I am, I am. I believe strongly in it.”

The President also falsely claimed that for Democrats, “environmental policy is just an excuse to advance a socialist platform that will impose trillions and trillions of dollars in new taxes and send our jobs overseas.”

The President’s statements came almost concurrency to an interview in which California’s Governor Gavin Newsom was pressed on the climate-related causes of California’s recent wildfires and responded that “I have no patience for climate-change deniers. It’s inconsistent with the reality on the ground, the facts.” And on the same day that UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the nations of the world must retool their economies for a green future or humanity is “doomed”

Why This Matters: The President can’t wash his record, no matter how hard he tries. Four more years of this administration would mean, as Vox explained, severe and irreversible changes in the climate. And climate leaders like Governor Newsom and Secretary-General Guterres know that the world’s people cannot afford inaction on the part of their leaders. Lives are at stake and there’s no appetite for inaction and lies.

Not Buying It: While it’s doubtful that most people believe President Trump when he touts his environmental accomplishments, do they buy his rhetoric that environmental policy is bad for the economy? Likely not. A recent survey from Resources for the Future showed that the public is perhaps starting to see past the false dichotomy that action on climate change and protection of the environment comes at the direct expense of the economy. According to Ray Kopp, RFF Vice President for Research and Policy Engagement:

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a unique test for how people feel about climate change when faced with a different global crisis. The argument that we can’t do anything about climate change without crashing the economy, or that we need to just focus on the pandemic and not do anything on climate right now simply doesn’t resonate with Americans.

While other polling shows that Americans are not prioritizing climate change as a voting issue, the core tenets of a climate action plan like Joe Biden’s is one geared toward putting Americans back to work and strengthening the economy through the jobs of the future. Smart politicians are completely bypassing the argument of ‘environment vs. economy‘ and moving straight into the solutions space.

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