NPR: Climate scientist ponders Trump presidency’s effect on climate progress

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: One thing President-elect Donald Trump has been pretty clear about this campaign season is that he wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency. He called the agency a disgrace and has put a leading climate change skeptic in charge of his EPA transition team. To get some perspective, we called up Katharine Hayhoe. She’s an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She’s also a devout Christian and has spent her life outside of her research convincing fellow conservative Christians that climate change is real.

When I asked Katharine Hayhoe how Donald Trump’s presidency would affect climate policy, she said she wasn’t terribly worried because if you look at the headway that’s been made in clean energy solutions, much of it, she says, hasn’t come from federal programs.

KATHARINE HAYHOE: The vast majority of the advances that we’ve seen, the initiatives we’ve seen, the incredible changes we’ve seen over the past eight or 10 years, they’ve occurred at the level of a city, of a state, of a region, of a business and of an industry.

MARTIN: So you are suggesting that anything the federal government does or doesn’t do under a Trump administration won’t have an impact because the changes are happening in industry.

HAYHOE: What I’m saying is that the federal government policy definitely does have an impact. It has an impact at the international level in terms of the United States contribution to the Paris agreement. And it also has an impact on the national scale in terms of whether it provides incentives or disincentives for certain types of technological developments, whether it provides support for cities who want to build their climate resilience or not. So federal policy is important, but it isn’t the only piece of the pie. And I don’t think it’s even necessarily the majority of the pie.

Read or listen to the complete interview here, at NPR.