On Tuesday April 25, Spire Ås hosted a Get Inspired event about Trump’s climate politics and influence through social media. We welcomed two knowledgeable speakers and an engaged audience of about 55 people to Samfunnet in Ås.
The first speaker was Guri Bang, a climate analyst from CICERO. She specialises in international climate politics, with an emphasis on the USA. She is often referred to by media as an expert on president Trump and his impact on American climate policy, and has worked directly with the Norwegian delegation to Paris.
Guri held an interesting lecture about Trump’s climate politics. The shift in climate politics from President Obama to President Trump is very distinct, due to a polarization between Democrat and Republican policy. Unlike Obama, Trump shows little acceptance of climate science, and does not prioritize climate matters. Rather, he supports fossil energy and transfers climate responsibilities down to the state level. The American states can thus choose their own climate policy – meaning some will be climate-friendly, and others not climate-friendly at all.
However, Trump’s support for fossil energy will not necessarily carry through, Guri proposes. A shift in energy markets is going on, with power production switching from coal to natural gas. Renewable energy is becoming cheaper, and investment in coal is decreasing. It will be interesting to see how Trump handles the USA’s commitments to the Paris Agreement.
Linda Therese Rosenberg, the next speaker, works with media and communication, as a research assistant at UiO, and knows a lot about how Trump used social media, primarily Twitter, during the Presidential elections.
Trumps presence in social media was a major contributor to his campaign. His tweets were cited in many election news articles. Trump used colloquial language, made his standpoints easy to understand, and engaged with his voters through Twitter. His tweeting style, as opposed to Clinton’s, was largely non-traditional. Linda discussed how Trump’s tweets often did not address specific issues, but mobilised his supporters – causing him to go viral.
However, after the elections, Trump’s tweeting style has become more traditional, and he spends a lot less time retweeting the content of voters. He often uses twitter to criticise the Democratic Party and the media. Polls show that trust in Republican mass media has dropped more in the last couple of years, than trust in Democrat and independent mass media.
Finally, Linda discussed how Trump tends to portray himself in pictures: as a great leader. Rather than being a “man of the people”, he takes is centre point of large rallies and holds the top seat in important meetings.
After the talks, audience had the opportunity to ask questions for the speakers. A lot of good questions were asked, which resulted in a knowledgeable discussion. We thanked the speakers with flowers, and encouraged everyone to stick around for delicious sandwiches and coffee.
The event provided insight into facts of Trump’s power, a good balance to the many discussions of his person. We learned a lot, and gained some new perspectives – perhaps especially about why Trump was so successful in his use of social media, and to what extent his say will influence international climate politics.
Fiji, an island country, is the host of this years higher level climate meeting. The country is threatened by sea level rise, as many island states are. What is safe to say, is that the future of the climate meetings and Paris agreement is interesting, and that Trumps tweets on the climate will perhaps not have so much impact on a world that is already shifting to renewable energy.
Ingvild Haugen, Spire Ås