The US Just Elected A Climate Change Denier – What Does That Mean For The Rest Of Us?

    "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese."

    As the 45th president of the United States delivered his victory speech, a panel of lawyers, writers, and activists on the other side of the world in Australia discussed what Donald Trump's win would mean for the fight against global warming.

    All-female panel discussing climate change at #sydneypeaceprize with 2016 winner @NaomiAKlein

    @ameliagilbert/Twitter

    Trump has said he wants to scrap major regulations the Obama administration put in place to reduce the nation's carbon dioxide emissions, including the Clean Power Plan.

    He has also previously claimed climate change is a “hoax” concocted by China to undermine manufacturing in the US.

    The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

    We don’t know exactly what he is going to do on climate change," award-winning writer and environmental campaigner Naomi Klein told the Sydney audience.

    “But [Trump] has taken action indicating that he does believe climate change is real because he has protected his golf courses,” she said, referring to Trump’s construction of a sea wall designed to protect one of his golf courses from global warming and its effects.

    Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

    The panel discussed how rising sea levels threatened to sink the Kiribati islands in the Pacific ocean, and the fight of Indigenous activists against the proposed Adani coal mine in Australia's Galilee Basin.

    "I am a part of a 60,000-year legacy of the greatest sustainability that the world has ever known," Murrawah Johnson of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council told the audience.

    Dan Peled / AAP

    "We are not just those who are on the frontline, but we are the least resourced to mount the fight," said Johnson, who campaigns against the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine.

    "My people are saying no to the world's largest proposed coal mine that would completely and utterly devastate our water, devastate our landscape, destroy our animals and in turn destroy us as a people, our cultural identity, our spiritual connection."

    Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang from Kiribati described how rising sea levels had flooded her home country.

    IISD Reporting Services/Flickr / Via Flickr: iisdrs

    "Whatever you're doing with the coal mines, it is affecting us," Chi-Fang said.

    "Some developed and rich countries might see climate change as about economy but for us, it is about our very survival."

    David Gray / Reuters

    When asked how environmentalists should respond to the possibility of the "second-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world effectively vacating" action against climate change, Klein admitted: "It is going to be tricky."

    She said activists should push outgoing US president Barack Obama to "do as much as he can that is very hard to reverse in the interim".

    "Climate change is the ultimate proof of what we should already know and that is that our fates are intertwined, and what is so striking being here in Australia ... is this culture of complete refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions," Klein said.

    Cole Bennetts / Getty Images

    "That expresses itself in the refusal to take responsibility for warming caused by coal mining."

    Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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