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Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Trump & Boris Show

Some new, lowbrow basic-cable comedy? Don't you wish.
Image result for boris johnson and trumpThere are Trump's children: Eric, Junior, Ivanka, and the rest. Then there are his symbolic spawn, taking root in governments around the globe like a rejected sci-fi movie pitch.

When Queen Elizabeth II formally made Boris Johnson the newest British Prime Minister on July 24, he joined a growing list of "populist" new leaders whose collective rise bodes ill for a healthy planet.

Scott Morrison in Australia may not play the tyrant card, but he represents a turn toward coal-burning, climate change denial. Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines loom as a return to cold-blooded tyranny; Duterte is halfway into his six-year term in the Philippines, and has earned comparisons as "the Filipino Trump."



He's less of a full-throated eco-disaster than his Brazilian counterpart, but let's turn back the clock a bit. In 2013, Yeb Saño turned that year's U.N. climate conference on its emotional ear.

The youthful Saño was the chief Filipino climate delegate under President Benigno Aquino III, and he turned a normally tedious conference into a genuine crying jag with a speech about his nation's agony at the mercy of Typhoon Haiyan. The unprecedentedly strong storm killed at least 6,000 and displaced four million.

Saño left government for NGO work on climate. While Duterte hasn't leapt headlong into climate denial, he's resisted calls to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and even chided diplomats for "accomplishing nothing."

Bolsonaro has similarly earned "Brazilian Trump" comparisons, but the environment is taking the main hit. Illegal Amazon deforestation – already a crisis – is accelerating, while the Bolsonaro government is moving apace to legalize even more destruction.

In May, Australia's Scott Morrison rose to Prime Minister in what was dubbed "the climate election." The climate lost, and Morrison is pumping more Aussie coal into Asian exports to growing economies like China and India.

Boris Johnson's new cabinet reflects their boss: They're all over the map, from Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers ("action on climate change is vital") to Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, who deploys denialist language like "climate alarmism." (Thanks to the sleuths Mat Hope and Richard Collett-White at DeSmogBlog UK for these.)

At a time when the world is in desperation for climate leadership, we're getting climate despots instead.