Beijing (CNN)Ma Jun, perhaps China’s best-known environmentalist, thinks US President Donald Trump needs to visit China.
Trump is promising to reduce energy regulations, eliminate the carbon reducing Climate Action Plan, and has called climate change a hoax.
The Trump White House has also removed mentions of Climate Change on its website and issued a gag order to federal agencies — prompting some national parks twitter accounts to “go rogue.”
On Friday, the US Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt will head up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Republicans say Pruitt, a longtime critic of the EPA, will preside over a much needed shake up at the agency. Democrats and environmental activists were unable to block the confirmation.
Ma has been following it all closely. He says China could offer some sobering lessons to the new US President.
“More people in China thought that we should get rich first before even thinking of the environment. But now we are suffering,” he says.
After decades of unbridled growth, the suffering is immense.
In September, the US and China committed to the Paris climate agreement. During the Obama administration, climate change was one of the few areas where the US and China made real progress, in an otherwise increasingly testy relationship.
Most observers believe that Trump will turn his back on at least some of those commitments.
A key climate changer negotiator for China told me that it could push China, unwillingly, even further into a leadership position.
“The United States transition is bad news for efforts to combat climate change and it could have a negative impact,” said Chai Qimin.
“China will have to take the lead, especially for developing economies,” he added.
The irony isn’t lost on Ma, who has made it his life’s work to clean up China’s environmental mess.
“Now should be a time for all of us to come together to be the guardian of mother earth, it is not the time to weaken environmental protection,” he says.