President-elect Donald Trump heralds a new age of climate doubters, but can this army backed by fossil fuel companies hold off reality in 2017?

President elect Donald Trump and UK MEP Nigel Farage (Pic: Twitter/@Nigel_Farage)
President elect Donald Trump and UK MEP Nigel Farage (Pic: Twitter/@Nigel_Farage)

Christmas came early for the world’s greying tribe of climate sceptics.

They’re on the cusp of the best and perhaps last chance they will get to comprehensively wreck efforts to limit temperature rises.

The first presents arrived in the early hours of 24 June, when it became clear the UK had voted to leave the European Union, splitting what has been a powerful force for climate change ambition.

The second batch fell down the chimney on 9 November with the election of a man as US president who once said climate change was a “hoax” and has named a coterie of advisors and cabinet picks that look like a Heartland Institute calendar shoot.

Donald Trump’s win has emboldened a legion of right-wing think tanks, conspiracy theorists and keyboard warriors who might have thought their goose was cooked in Paris last year.

From the cheers as 195 countries agreed to support a new – if legally loose – plan to address greenhouse gas emissions, now listen to the groans from green groups.

Expect these to grow louder as the sceptics grow in confidence. The expected and predicted dip in global temperatures through 2017 has resurrected the old canard of the warming ‘pause’.

2017 to be ‘very warm’ but not beat 2016 – UK’s @metoffice:

— Climate Home (@ClimateHome) December 20, 2016

Expect a slew of reports through 2017 claiming climate policies are ruinously expensive, harm the poor and do little to deliver carbon cuts.

Two British MPs have already tried their best this month. Peter Lilley, an advisor to the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) said the UK climate act would cost consumers £300 billion by 2030.

His report was enthusiastically covered in the Times by (Lord) Matt Ridley, another GWPF advisor.

Grant Shapps – not previously known for his energy expertise – predicted the lights will go out through Christmas 2017 unless the country reverses its carbon-cutting measures.

Both studies are produced by organisations that do not disclose their backers. Both have since been called out for their maths by the Carbon Brief website and leading energy experts.

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