2016 is the hottest year on record and Trump is about to be president – the UK must step up

As Obama leaves the White House, the world needs a climate leader

Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen

It is now ‘very likely’ that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation, whose preliminary data suggests temperatures of approximately 1.2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This means that 16 of the 17 hottest years will have been in this century, with 2015 and 2016 as back-to-back record-breakers.


While the news was bad last year, the negotiation of the Paris Agreement — a deal with unprecedented international support — gave some cause for optimism. Both China and the US were finally taking major strides, largely thanks to Barack Obama’s decision to make climate change mitigation a central plank of his second term.

Now, the world is even hotter and a climate change denier is about to take over the White House. Donald Trump has already appointed ‘climate criminal‘ Myron Ebell to lead the rollback of the Environmental Protection Agency, and is reportedly seeking quick ways to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

However, as Leah Davis of the Green Alliance wrote last week, ‘the US-sized hole can be filled’ if an existing climate leader is willing to step forward and offer ‘strong climate diplomacy’.

She continued:

“The UK could see this as a major opportunity. In the light of Brexit it will need to be increasingly outward looking, and it has a long and strong track record on which it could build. It was the first country to set a legally binding goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the first to announce a date to end unabated coal and the first to establish an investment bank dedicated to the green economy.”

There are lots of good reasons for the UK to position itself as a climate leader, from the jobs created by green energy to the investment it could unlock. Moreover, it would clearly demonstrate that post-Brexit Britain is an outward-looking, innovative and responsible global player.

However, the early signs are not promising. While Theresa May has voiced some support for climate action, her decision to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change suggests that environmental issues are not a priority, as does her government’s sluggish progress towards ratification of the Paris Agreement.

That said, this generation of Tories is not fundamentally climate-sceptical, and they have been lazy on climate action rather than actively averse to change.

Hopefully the election of Trump — who believes that global warming is a Chinese hoax — will shake them out of their stupor.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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8 Responses to “2016 is the hottest year on record and Trump is about to be president – the UK must step up”

  1. Michael WALKER

    “Hopefully the election of Trump — who believes that global warming is a Chinese hoax — will shake them out of their stupor.”

    As opposed to Corbyn’s brother who thinks Global Warming is due to a solar cycle.

    (A comment just as relevant)

  2. Mick

    The world HAD a ‘climate leader’ – in LFF’s (and Labour’s) own GORDON BROWN. He forked out billions to pay hot countries to begin ‘global cooling’…. and they wolfed the lot with ne’er a return for the investment!

    The whackjob Left are on flimsy ground over climate. They want to tax, tax, tax anyway – when in the government, Ed Miliband wanted holiday flight ration cards – and the information films they rely on are full of lies.

    Remember AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, starring AL GORE? The US Supreme Court found it loaded with so many errors, flaws and half-truths that it is virtually useless as a warning film. And the court wasn’t alone. Many academics have also proved doubts.

    LFF are just inventing snags and crises now. The Left is panicky as THEIR failures have directly led to the so-called far Right to coming take their share of the rule.

  3. Anon

    The cult of ManBearPig has been shown up to be as ridiculous as any other zealous religion.

    Planet Earth has been sequestering CO2 for millions of years; the ex-Greenpeace activist, Patrick Moore makes a good case for enthusiastically releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere – areas of desert are now being recorded as ‘re-greening’ due to rising CO2 release.

    Why so-described ‘scientists’ are able to focus all their attention on a very small trace gas, whilst there are numerous other factors at work, is frankly fraud. As Dr Tim Ball put it: “The analogy I use is that my car is not running very well, so I am going to ignore the engine, which is the Sun, and I am going to ignore the transmission, which is water vapor, and I am going to look at one nut on the rear right wheel, which is human-produced CO2. The science is that bad.”

    Cloud forming cosmic rays, the Earth’s path around the Sun, the cyclical regularity, over millions of years, with which this planet heats and cools – with temperature driving CO2 release, and not the other way around; all are ignored to suit a political agenda.

    I challenge anybody who believes that CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming to not drive a car or get on a plane. It’s not just the complete con of AGW, it’s the hypocrisy of its adherents.

    If I can not distinguish between the pros and cons of AGW arguments, it is this hypocritical behaviour that becomes the decisive factor that sways me.

  4. Mick


  5. Jonathan Hampshire

    We outside America need to act now, before Trump opens a single coal mine, drills a single well. or withdraws a single cent from renewable development projects. It doesn’t matter that the economics lean towards renewables and away from fossil fuels. Trump & co are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry and that it what they will promote, regardless.

    350 degrees, Greenpeace and FOE have their hands tied because they operate inside the US and so it would be pretty hard for them to call for a boycott of US corporations; therefore there needs to be a new campaign group set up in countries outside the US promoting such a boycott. It doesn’t have to be all encompassing; just a handful of the big names – Coca Cola, Starbucks, McDonalds etc, will do to start with.

    But it needs to be done quickly, ideally before Trump has even taken office. We need to deliver the first blow, or at least make the threat clear to Trump and the Republicans. To wait until Trump takes charge is to give the advantage, and we can’t afford to allow that. We need him on the defensive and on the back foot.

    The sooner people realise that there is absolutely zero chance of the UN or our governments doing anything that will get Trump and co to change course, the quicker we can get together and do something ourselves. The wait and see approach is the dumb approach.

    The only way Trump and the Republicans can be brought to see reason is to hit them in their wallet; our governments won’t do it; we can. We need to be the ones shaping events and controlling them, not the other way around. We need to take action now, and that action needs to be swift and uncompromising.

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