Sierra Club
November 9, 2016

Michael Brune Executive Director, Sierra Club


Hello - I’m Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. 

This is a deeply disappointing day for the United States, and the world. For people all over the country, the pain, anger, and fear at the prospect of a Trump Presidency are very real. 

As we reflect on what this means for our country and our planet, it’s most important that we stand in solidarity with all those who have been targeted by Trump during his campaign. People of color, Muslims, immigrants, women, the disabled -- millions of Americans have been singled out and attacked by Donald Trump before he has even taken office.

We are clear-eyed about the fact that those attacks could continue once he is inaugurated. That is why, as the saying goes, we will not mourn (for too long, anyway) -- we will organize.

Today, we aren’t defeated -- we are determined. What is important to remember is that there are millions upon millions of Americans who stood up to Donald Trump’s ignorance, his misogyny, and his racism -- and these same millions will be standing up every day moving forward to ensure he can’t roll back all the progress we’ve made in recent years. 

Make no mistake -- the election of Donald Trump could be devastating for our climate and our future. Donald Trump now has the unflattering distinction of being the only head of state in the entire world to reject the scientific consensus that mankind is driving climate change. Campaigning is one thing, governing is another. Trump must choose whether he will be a President remembered for putting America and the world BACK on a path to climate disaster, or for listening to the American public, investing in the fastest-growing sector in the US economy -- clean energy -- and keeping us on a path to climate progress.

Trump better choose wisely, otherwise -- we can guarantee him the hardest fight of his life every step of the way.

Regardless of last night’s results, there are some things Trump can’t change.

He can’t change the fact that the world is heating up and we are reaching a tipping point. He can’t change the fact that clean energy is cheaper than dirty fuels like coal and gas and nuclear power all over the country. He can’t change the fact that grassroots activists like the Sierra Club will keep fighting to close down coal plants and replace them with clean energy -- and with nearly 250 on the path to retirement and many more to come, we’ve made it clear we can deliver on that promise. The markets and the American people are moving this nation beyond dirty fuels to clean energy, and Donald Trump can’t reverse that tide.

We see no reason to stop being on offense on climate and clean energy. We defeated most of the new coal plants proposed during the George W. Bush administration -- 184 to be exact -- with grassroots power, and we can and will do similar work under the Trump administration. We’re going to bring that same focus to growing the clean energy economy on a state and local level, helping grow the blossoming number of cities committed to 100% clean energy. This is progress Trump can not stop.

And it may not have gotten the attention it deserved during the election, but public opinion and the market strongly favor clean energy over fossil fuels. In fact, there is a consensus among Clinton supporters and Trump supporters that supporting clean energy jobs should be a priority -- just look at the defeat of anti-solar Amendment 1 in Florida yesterday for one example of the bipartisan support for solar and wind.

Those are the real life factors that are going to keep our progress moving ahead no matter who is in the White House. We’ve won vitally important victories in state houses, on Public Utility Commissions, on ballot initiatives, and in corporate boardrooms - and we will keep winning.  
And let’s address one of the elephants in the room: Trump’s threat to quote “cancel” the Paris agreement.

Whether he can or not is the real question. What we know is that it would be extraordinarily difficult for Trump to remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. His position is already causing international blowback abroad, and in very pointed ways that are in some respects unprecedented.

If Trump does try to undermine climate action, he will run headlong into an organized mass of people who will fight him in the courts, in the states, in the marketplace and in the streets.

Meanwhile, you can be absolutely sure that environmental advocates will continue to speak out and defend essential clean air, clean water, and other environmental protections when they come under attack by a Trump administration, as they most certainly will -- except we will be louder than ever before.

Make no mistake, this loss hurts for reasons that extend far beyond this room. And we stand in total solidarity with communities of color, Muslims, women and all those who may be threatened under a Trump Administration. They have an ally in the environmental movement. In the meantime, we will not be licking our wounds. Instead, we are preparing for the fights to come.