Only China can save the planet now that the United States has abandoned any claim to climate leadership
Under its new administration, the United States has abandoned any claim to climate leadership. Whether or not Donald Trump reneges on his now-infamous 2012 tweet claiming climate change was a hoax, the presidency is in the hands of a man who puts ego and profit far before science. The House of Representatives, Senate, and judiciary are all controlled by Republicans who see continuing to tap into new fossil fuels as vital and desirable, and the incoming secretary of state is the former CEO of ExxonMobil, a company whose founding family, the Rockefellers, has described it as "morally reprehensible" for its efforts to conceal information about climate change.
Even if Trump choked to death tomorrow, little short of a coup could cause the Republican-led government to heed its own military's view that climate change poses "significant risk to U.S. national security and international security." At my offices in Shanghai, which I share with the publishers of a prominent international scientific journal, the mood wavers between gloominess and a hope that, somehow, something will save us. But the threat feels personal now, to our families and futures. Scientists talk about "pre-traumatic stress disorder," the difficulty of seeing a tragedy that is still preventable accelerating in slow motion.
With the United States out, who's left to take up the reins of global leadership and push forward measures like last year's breakthrough Paris climate agreement? There's only one possible answer: China.