Trump’s election is a huge setback for the transition away from fossil fuels. Obama’s policy initiatives relating to oil and climate are very likely to be reversed. Carbon taxes will not rise, the federal electric vehicle tax credit will be either terminated or allowed to expire, fleet efficiency standards will be lowered, and oil infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline will be given the green light.
Clearly, environmentalists must continue to defend these policies as best we can. But playing defense is not enough: we must also find a way to make progress during these years, so that oil consumption is less in 2020 than it is now.
While Trump and the oil companies are masters of the political process right now, consumer perception is much harder for them to control. It is in this field–the consciousness and perception of consumers– that we have a lot of room to run. If we can turn consumers’ hearts, minds, and pocketbooks away from fossil fuels, we can make important progress on climate despite a Trump presidency.