Why Electing Donald Trump is The Worst Thing to Have Happened to Climate Change
America just elected the only world leader to deny that climate change exists
Donald Trump has been elected President of the United State of America. He’s also been called the worst environmental candidate in history by Khalid Pitts, the political director at the Sierra Club, the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organisation in the world.
Pitts has said: "The only thing associated with his [Trump’s] campaign that remotely resembles 'alternative energy' are the flames from the dumpster fire that is his energy policy, and those are obviously unhealthy to be around.
"Put simply, Trump's energy plan is this: he opposes any policy that will tackle the climate crisis or grow our clean energy economy, and he supports any policy that props up the dirty fossil fuel industry."
This is scary talk, particularly as climate change continues to worsen. One in six species now face extinction as a result of human-caused climate change and up to 250 million people could potentially be displaced because of it by 2050.
So why exactly is Trump so bad for the environment? What has he said about climate change? Well for starters...
Trump thinks climate change is a “hoax"
Yes, Donald Trump has denied saying this, but he’s also not even bothered to delete the Tweet where he said it, so here you go: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
The New Yorker reports that Trump has not only called climate change a “hoax", but also a “make-believe program", a “big scam", “non-existent" and “a very, very expensive form of tax".
And he’s also revisited the topic numerous times since 2012 on Twitter:
Strangely, Trump and his three kids were a handful of many who signed an open letter published as a full-page in the Times back in 2009 calling on Obama to “lead the world by example" on matters of climate change. We’re not sure what happened between that and 2012.
Trump wants to scrap Obama’s Clean Power Plan
In 2012, the latest year for which complete country data is available, the USA was the second-largest contributor of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions after only China.
President Obama had been called ‘the first climate change President’ for drastically increasing the country’s production of clean and renewable fuels, reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, signing major agreements to continue the progress and doing so without cost increases. He made the USA a world leader on climate change.
On the 15th of September, the Washington Examiner reported that Donald Trump said he would repeal four key Environmental Protection Agency regulations as President, including The Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan was one of Obama’s biggest achievements in office, creating the first ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, the largest source of pollution on the planet, despite being fought by congress along the way. The plan aimed to get States to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants by a huge 30 percent by 2030.
During an economic policy speech in New York in September, Trump said he would take away the Clean Power Plan, citing the cost of the plan for the main reason behind this.
Trump said of the Clean Power Plan: "This Obama-Clinton directive will shut down most, if not all, coal-powered electricity plans in America." Mike Pence, Trump’s VP and fellow climate-skeptic, legally challenged Obama’s Clean Power Plan through his Governorship in Indiana too in 2015.
With Republicans in control of the House and the Sensate, Trump could be able to get rid of these policies relatively simply.
Trump has hinted he wants to make all federal land open for fossil fuel production and increase Arctic drilling
The Waters of the United States rule seeks to clarify Supreme Court decisions on what is a federally protected water source.
Trump says that this would cover too many bodies of water, and would look to scrap it, effectively seeing all federal land being opened to fossil fuel production.
Trump has previously criticised Obama for taking “huge percentages of Alaskan petroleum off the table", despite Obama providing leases for Arctic exploration, something which Hillary did not plan to do, but could Trump go even further?
In 2015, vocal supporter and ex-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin lead a “drill baby drill" chant while on stage with Trump. More drilling in Alaska would be good for employment in the area and a popular decision in Alaska, but there are a whole host of risks to the environment in one of the areas already being affected by climate change visibly; not least a heightened risk of oil spills, which leave immediate and lasting damage on the area.
Trump wants to get rid of at least part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Donald Trump has previously suggested that we would cut government agencies including the EPA if he was elected as President.
On October 18 it was reported that he told ‘Fox News Sunday’ host Chris Wallace: “Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations. They’re making it impossible –“
When interrupted and asked: “Who’s going to protect the environment?," Trump replied: “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit [of the EPA], but you can’t destroy businesses."
Actually getting rid of the EPA altogether would require a rewriting of US environmental laws, but even the fact he would consider such a thing is gravely concerning.
Trump wants to back out of the Paris Agreement on climate change
The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change seen as “a bridge between today’s policies and climate-neutrality before the end of the century". It was a huge step towards at least getting the ball rolling on climate change.
Many said that the Paris Agreement did not go far enough though, and was flawed in the fact that for one, it would not sanction or punish countries that fell short of meeting the agreed upon targets.
The BBC reported in May 2016 that Trump would seek to “cancel" the Paris climate deal, saying it was “bad for US business" and allows “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use".
While Trump may not be able to officially pull out of the Paris climate deal until 2020, his administration could just ignore it completely. The only penalty for non-compliance is having to give reasons for doing so.
If the US does not begin cutting emissions and regulating their output, it’s unlikely that powers like China would either, and China and the U.S. currently account for 40 percent of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gasses.
Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s top climate official, had admitted that the US election result would have significant “implications" for the future of climate change, but remains hopeful, previously stating: “I think everyone in the world is following the election process because of the implications, and we are vigilant, but it’s important to bear in mind the Paris Agreement has an incredible amount of legitimacy.
“It remains a treaty that is in force. What we will do is be vigilant and attentive."
Trump has said he wants to cut ALL federal climate change spending, including cancelling an agreement to help fund poorer nations to cut emissions
The Bureau of National Affairs reported that Donald Trump said he would save $100 billion over eight years by cutting all federal climate change spending, such as removing domestic and international climate programs; the kind of programs that have seen the US become a leader in climate change and help poorer nations change as well.
Trump said: “We’re going to put America first. That includes cancelling billions in climate change spending for the United Nations, a number Hillary wants to increase, and instead use that money to provide for American infrastructure including clean water, clean air and safety."
Trump has said he would cancel these commitments for an international fund to help poor nations reduce carbon pollution.
The predictions for Trump’s impact on the climate are truly frightening
Lux Research predicted the impacts on the US’s CO2 emissions under both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and found that while Hillary would have continued Obama’s work to bring the output to its lowest since the early 90s, Trump is set to send the emissions soaring, undoing the work of the past eight years.
Lux predict that “a Trump presidency could mean 3.4 billion tons more U.S. Carbon Emissions than a Clinton one."
With climate change accelerating so rapidly, and action needed now, who knows what the implications could be of the biggest superpower in the world and second biggest emitter going back eight years in progress instead of continuing to move forward. They could be catastrophic.
Let’s just hope that the rest of the world pushed on, that renewable energy becomes so prominent that the US simply can’t ignore it, and that Trump... just has a quick change of heart? Seems likely.