What will President Trump mean for the environment?
The world woke up to a huge surprise on November 10th, as Donald Trump scored an upset victory over polling favourite Hillary Clinton. For the past 3 weeks, pundits from around the world have been speculating about a great many aspects of ‘President Trump’s’ upcoming tenure: international relations, domestic infrastructure, the infamous wall and of course – the environment.
This leads us to the question at hand – what exactly will President Trump’s time in office mean for the environment, both at home and in a global sense?
Climate Change – real concern or “Chinese invented hoax”
Donald Trump is certainly well known for his inflammatory comments and his insult – driven Twitter account, but he is also known to climate scientists as being, “one bad hombre,” due to his denial of climate change. The President elect has repeatedly said that he
believes that climate change is a “Chinese invented hoax” designed to cripple American industry.
Some of the world’s top scientists are fearful about the potential repercussions of Trump’s inaction on the environment, and they also feel frustrated that their expert wisdom is going unheard. In a recent Guardian article, respected climate researcher Michael Mann expressed his worries. “A Trump presidency might be game over for the climate. It might make it impossible to stabilize planetary warming below dangerous levels.” A chilling prediction from a leading expert.
King Coal, the Keystone Pipeline and drilling for oil in all the wrong places
It is clear that Trump plans to nullify the Clean Power Plan, a tool instated to cut American emissions and bring them down to acceptable levels, and he will cut billions of dollars in subsidies for cleaner energy alternatives.
What else will he do once he takes office? He will likely wave through the hotly contested Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, projects that have been stymied by protest, government vetoes and negative public opinion. In order to do this, Trump will have to rescind an order that has been in place since 1968, and experts fear that this is exactly what he will do.
He also plans to sink money into coal mining infrastructure, and many speculate that he will attempt to remove protections on certain Alaskan areas in order to allow for oil extraction and drilling.
The Paris Climate Accord and beyond – What will happen?
Despite the fact that the Paris Climate Accord, an international agreement still in its infancy, was only signed by America last year, Trump has expressed interest in reneging on the US’s involvement, a move that is sure to incite a domino effect around the planet.
What will all of this mean for our shared environmental future? The forecasts are not rosy, with experts predicting a global rise in temperatures; rising sea levels around the world; more forest fires, hurricanes, cyclones and floods; decreasing harvests, leading to food shortages and famine in developing nations and an increase in prices for everyone; global conflicts and wars will increase as resources become scarce.
A gloomy prediction, yes – but sadly, unlike the pre-election polls, this is one that the experts seem to agree on.
Trump’s latest appointment, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is the third nominee he has chosen to “have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run”. Pruitt, seen as an ally of the fossil fuel industry, will head the US Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats say Pruitt is a climate-change denier, and he has been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s climate change policies. Writing in the National Review in May, Pruitt said the climate change debate “is far from settled”. He argued that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind”.
“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs,” said Trump.
It is a clear signal from the incoming Trump administration that environmental regulations, especially as they apply to the production of energy, are set for fundamental reform. And it shows the Trump camp is not willing to accept that many aspects of the science of climate change are now settled.