Myron Ebell… the man, the myth, the great disruptor. Ok, that may be a little dramatic but he is worth discussing. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may select Ebell to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the next administration. As an avid climate denier, Ebell looks set to disrupt U.S. policy on climate change.
Ebell’s position will help fulfil Trump’s environmental ambitions, or lack thereof. This means pulling out of the Paris agreement, boosting fossil fuel extraction, constructing the controversial Keystone pipeline, and ending financial support for U.N. climate change programs.
Here are the top five things you need to know about Myron Ebell and how he will influence the EPA.
1. He’s the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) – an organization partly funded by the coal industry. Unsurprisingly, this conservative policy group staunchly opposes any climate change action. Not familiar with CEI’s work? Check out their public-service commercial, aptly titled “They call it pollution. We call it life.”
2. He thinks climate change is no biggie. “There has been a little bit of warming … but it’s been very modest and well within the range for natural variability, and whether it’s caused by human beings or not, it’s nothing to worry about.” – Ebell in Vanity Fair 2007.
3. He loves global warming, because warmer weather is better weather. You can read all about it in his Forbes piece “Love Global Warming“.
4. He’s not a scientist. Ebell received a B.A. in philosophy from Colorado College and obtained an M.Sc. in political theory from the London School of Economics. Although he’s not a scientist he is quick to find faults with their work. He did this to Sir David King when King was the U.K.’s chief scientific officer. In a BBC radio interview, Ebell said King made a “ridiculous claim” on climate change and knew “nothing about climate science.”
5. He leads the Cooler Heads Coalition. A small group of organizations that aim to dispel the “myths” of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.
So what does this mean for us in corporate sustainability?
Most private companies will likely have a more progressive stance on climate change than the U.S. Government. Policy and legislation change could undo years of hard work – Trump’s election itself sparked a drop in investment in renewable energy. Business must take the lead to keep us on track to make global carbon reductions. Just this week at COP22, 360 of the world’s biggest businesses called for Trump to back the climate agreement.
In the future, industry and multi-stakeholder collectives such as RE100 will have a significant part to play in influencing official U.S. policy.
Most important, it’s good to stay positive. Check out what Ben & Jerry’s say in their message of hope.