President-elect Donald Trump will soon have the power to steer the U.S. through the challenges of combating climate change. Based on his rhetoric on the campaign trail and policy proposals, the business mogul is set to reverse the path set by outgoing President Barack Obama on environmental protections.
Trump previously signaled that he does not believe in climate change, a view that goes against the consensus of both the scientific community and global leaders.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 6, 2012.
Following Trump’s stunning election upset, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club issued a statement pointing out the business mogul’s uniqueness on the world stage when it comes to environmentalism.
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“Donald Trump now has the unflattering distinction of being the only head of state in the entire world to reject the scientific consensus that mankind is driving climate change,” Brune said, according to The Atlantic.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump gave every indication that he is determined to roll back all of the measures put in place by the Obama administration to avoid a global temperature increase that could devastate the Earth’s ability to accommodate humans.
Trump has vowed to dismiss Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an ambitious measure to help reduce U.S. carbon emissions over the next decade. The business mogul has also signaled that he wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and roll back regulations on fossil fuels, according to Vox.
Trump has also pledged to reverse the U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement, a deal among hundreds of nations to curb carbon emissions to avoid the global temperature rising up to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
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By international law, the U.S. is bound to the Paris Climate Agreement until at least 2019, but a President Trump can simply ignore its conditions.
Alden Meyer, the director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that if the U.S. refuses to uphold its obligations to curb carbon emissions, then “China, Europe, Brazil Indiana and other countries will continue to move ahead with the climate commitments they made under Paris no matter what the next president does, because these commitments are in their own national interests.”
Professor Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University is less optimistic of how the international community would respond to an uncooperative U.S. administration.
“Moving forward, if Trump doesn’t change his view of the Paris agreement and doesn’t honor the commitments [the Obama administration] made, that virtually guarantees that the international process will fall into disarray,” Oppenheimer told The Washington Post.
An analysis conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the Earth can only avoid the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold if current carbon emission rates are drastically reduced within the next five years.
Trump has also vowed to resurrect the coal industry, which seems unlikely. Coal was not driven out by government policy but by economic factors and alternative energy sources such as fracking.
Based on Trump’s proposals on the campaign trail, Lux Research estimated that his administration will result in an extra 3.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions when compared to the hypothetical Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton presidency.