The Trump administration’s environmental policies have not affected the climate as much as previously expected, former Vice President Al Gore admitted on Monday.
“He [President Trump] has had less of an impact so far than I feared that he would. Someone said last year his administration is a blend of malevolence and incompetence,” Gore told the Associated Press. “I think they’ve made some mistakes in some of the moves they’ve made. The courts have blocked some of what they wanted to do as a result.”
Gore was in North Carolina both Sunday and Monday to speak on behalf of the Poor People’s Campaign, which names “ecological devastation” as one of the problems hurting poor people. Historians contend a 1982 campaign against a PCB landfill in North Carolina’s majority-black Warren County helped give birth to the environmental justice movemen,t so it’s especially appropriate that the Poor People’s Campaign has its roots in the state. The campaign’s co-chair is the Rev. William Barber, who founded the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and has served as president of the state NAACP chapter.
The former vice president claimed current dangers include the loosening of regulations for dumps for coal ash. The new acting secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, was quick to cut red tape for more than 400 U.S. coal-fired power plants. “And there are hundreds of other environmental procedures and regulations that Trump’s group has begun to undo,” Gore warned. “So he’s doing some damage, but overall I would say less than I had feared.”
Gore cited the Paris Climate Accord as one example of the Trump administration failing to change environmental rules as quickly as it might want. While the United States withdrew from the accord, he says the first date that can become official is the day after the 2020 presidential election. “If there’s a new president — excuse me for a moment,” Gore said as he placed his hands together as if in prayer, “then a new president could simply give 30 days’ notice, and we’re right back in the Paris agreement.”
Gore made international headlines in July for lavishing praise on the Vatican for “leading the world to commit to addressing the climate crisis ahead of the Paris Agreement.”
“The Pope is a model for leaders of other faith traditions to communicate the dangers posed by the climate crisis and our duty as stewards of God’s creation to solve it,” Gore added.
Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his campaign to protect the environment. The former vice president authored a 1992 book on the climate, Earth in the Balance, prior to entering the White House. His work also includes the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. More recently he founded The Climate Reality Project. In a 2017 report, the National Center for Public Policy Research revealed Gore’s mansion uses 34 times more electricity than the average home in the U.S. Gore’s 10,070-square-foot Nashville home burns on average 19,241-kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, in contrast to the average U.S. home of 901 kWh each month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.