The election of Donald Trump as the next president of the USA is already causing concern for climate change scientists and policy makers. The early transition arrangements are already indicating that a climate change denier will head the new arrangements, and there are credible sources indicating that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will be abolished. Scientists there and at NASA must fear for the future, globally and personally.
Now is the time for leadership to make its mark.
For the next four years Europe needs to offer a safe harbour to these scientists, a programme base where they can continue their essential work as far as possible. Funded and organised, including work visas, schools, health care, and family services. Funds should be voted by the European Parliament for the costs involved, paid to the local authorites and universities.
Candidate cities for the honour of being this safe harbour must include Berlin, Madrid and Paris and Rome. London, with its universities and English language would have been a strong candidate city before Brexit, as would Cambridge.
But, I want to make a bold suggestion here for Manchester in the UK.
Points in our favour include:
1. We have the political will and skills needed to pull together a strong partnership.
2. We have a strong track record in environmental improvements at an international level.
3. We have world-class universities, including the University of Manchester.
4. We are not afraid to show effective leadership which delivers far more than PR tweets.
5. We are internationally connected, both physically and in terms of scientific networks, including direct links to China.
There will be challenges which we can readily overcome:
Manchester City Council faces further revenue cuts in 2017-2018, so other partners will need to contribute and use their national and international influence to put a funded package together. Manchester City Council should lead on lobbying the UK government and the EU commission and parliament.
The University of Manchester received £42million from public funds for the merger with UMIST to create a greater new body. Now is the time for that strategic grant to bear its strongest fruit – by designating the old UMIST site as the new HQ for EPA and NASA scientists, and front-load the funding from reserves until the EU and UK institutions come on stream.
Years ago, Abraham Lincoln wrote eloquently to thank the cotton workers of Lancashire, including Manchester, for their boycott of the cotton trade in support of the abolition of slavery. His statue stands near the Town Hall to this day. The people of Manchester and our institutions can once again show leadership – Operation Safe Harbour – international leadership by Manchester for the fight against climate change deniers.
Update, 18 December 2016:
Today’s news “… the [US government] energy department [has] refused to hand over to the Trump transition team a list of names of staffers who had worked on climate change.”
Update, 9 May 2017:
This week’s news from the newly elected President of France: