Last week’s election of Donald Trump as the new President-elect has many environmentalists concerned for the future. “Trump’s election has been met here by Americans and the international community with a great deal of concern for what it means for our climate, our environmental quality and the safety and well-being of people around the world,” said Mike Berger, the executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.
According to President-elect Donald Trump: the concept of global warming was “created by and for the Chinese” in order to “make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Climate Change In the Election
Trump’s campaign position on climate change- that it was a Chinese hoax, is “an irrational, nonsensical idea, that is also plainly wrong” said Berger.
Arguably one of, if not the most pressing issues in today’s world, the problem of climate change was hardly discussed throughout the 2016 election. Both candidates made their opinions clear at the onset: Hillary Clinton vowed to keep President Obama’s strides to combat climate change in tact, whereas Trump, a non-believer, has vowed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form” (CNN).
The Paris Agreement
One of the current threats to the U.S.’s world stance on the environment is Trump’s plan to pull out of last year’s Paris Agreement, which commits more than 190 countries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide. Already signed by 109 countries, the central aim of the Paris Agreement’s is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. To do so, a goal of the agreement is to keep global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius, which was above pre-industrial levels.
If the President-elect goes through with removing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, “it makes it much less likely that the world will ever meet that target, and essentially ensures we will head into the danger zone,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University professor of geosciences and international affairs.
The U.S. is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas producer. Without the influence of such a pivotal player, the goals of the Paris Agreement may be quite hard to meet. Despite the fact that Trump cannot legally block other countries from contributing to their Paris Agreement pledges, this influence may cause a negative trajectory for the agreement’s results.
In addition to these threats, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for economic repercussions, should Trump go through with his plan.“I will demand that Europe put in place a carbon tax at its border, a tax of 1-3%, for all products coming from the United States, if the United States doesn’t apply environmental rules that we are imposing on our companies,” he said, according to Radio France Internationale. This tax would be a huge economic hit to American exports.
According to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “the evidence (of climate change) is mounting in ways that people in public life should not dare to avoid accepting as a mandate for action.”
Kerry has said that he and the Obama administration are doing everything they can to implement a global consensus for the fight against climate change before Trump takes over as Commander in Chief. “Until January 20th when this administration is over, we intend to do everything possible to meet our responsibility to future generations to be able to address this threat to life itself on the planet” said Kerry.
Scientists are unsure at this time if these are simply blind threats from the President-elect. We may not be heading into what Michael Oppenheimer called “the danger zone” quite yet- for now, environmentalists, along with the rest of the world, are in somewhat of a waiting zone.
(Analysis and Commentary by Simmons Andrews)