On Friday, the EPA announced it was ending its sponsorship of the Climate Leadership Awards, a national program that rewards businesses and organizations making efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Launched under Obama in 2012, the CLA awards companies for setting and meeting voluntary GHG emissions goals, publicly releasing emissions targets, or creating new partnerships that foster emissions reduction initiatives. Past recipients have included IBM, Microsoft, and the University of California. The announcement of the EPA’s discontinued involvement comes in the middle of next year’s application process. Its co-sponsors, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the Climate Registry, have announced they are seeking new partners to continue funding. The 2018 award ceremony and accompanying Climate Leadership Conference are still scheduled for next February in Denver.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that [the EPA doesn’t] plan to fund an awards ceremony on climate change,” said a spokesperson.
It’s hard to disagree. President Trump’s environmental legacy has so far been one of climate change denial and dismissal, and his cabinet has fallen in line. Since famously tweeting that climate change is a “hoax,” Trump’s budget has called for slashing funding for climate change research. Neither of his press secretaries, first Sean Spicer and now Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have given a straight answer on whether Trump believes in climate change.
His cabinet has followed suit.
Scott Pruitt, the current head of the EPA, is openly dismissive of the global consensus on climate change, and has removed climate scientists from the EPA’s Board of Science Counselors. Rick Perry, head of the Department of Energy has also pushed against the scientific consensus on climate change, as has Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. Budget director, Mick Mulvaney, infamously told reporters in March that this administration considers it “a waste of your money” to fund climate change research.
So while it’s not “surprising” to see the EPA turn away from supporting businesses making steps to reduce their carbon footprint, the brazenly nonchalant nature of the spokesperson’s quote is disturbing. We shouldn’t be surprised, nor should we casually accept bold and shameless climate denial as the norm.
Correction 8/29/17 12:30pm - A previous version of this post erroneously said the 2018 ceremony was cancelled. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions reached out to confirm that next year’s awards ceremony will continue as scheduled.