Donald Trump’s election victory is bad news for all sorts of reasons. For climate change it’s a disaster. The United States is going to have a president who thinks that global warming is a Chinese hoax.
When Hillary Clinton confronted him with this during a presidential debate, he said “I did not. I do not say that.” But he did. Here’s the tweet:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 6 November 2012
Trump is a climate change denier
It’s not easy to know what Trump thinks. As Noam Chomsky points out in an interview with Democracy Today,
It’s not even clear that he knows what he thinks. He’s kind of a loose cannon. All kinds of statements come out, sometimes some statement plus the negation of that statement within a few minutes.
But on climate change Trump is consistent. And wrong. He’s tweeted about climate change almost one hundred times.
Here he is on Fox News telling us that “the scientists are having a lot of fun” with the global warming “hoax”:
Trump wants to “cancel” the Paris Agreement
Trump has said he’ll “cancel” the Paris Agreement. He says it’s “bad for US business” and that the Paris Agreement allows “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use”.
Of course, the Paris Agreement is way too weak to address climate change. Climate scientist James Hansen describes it as a “fraud”, because there is “no action, just promises”.
But if the USA pulls out, it will make the Paris Agreement even weaker.
Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, countries can only pull out three years after it came into force (4 November 2016). It would then take one year from when the USA gave the UN notice that it was leaving.
Or, the USA could pull out of the UNFCCC. That would take one year.
What’s more likely is that under Trump, the USA will just make little or no effort to reduce its emissions. This matters for two reasons. First, the USA accounts for 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Second, if the USA doesn’t reduce its emissions, India, China and other countries are less likely to reduce theirs.
China has criticised Trump’s plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
Zou Ji, deputy director general at China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, is reported in the Guardian as saying that,
“China’s climate strategy and policy is in accordance with China’s national interest, and is not dependent on the US presidency.
“The fundamental incentive is China’s need to drive growth by escalating the economic transition, improving air quality, boosting growth rate by efficiency improvement, and strengthening energy security. After all, it is a matter of innovation of development path.”
Hopefully, then, Trump will not be able to increase China’s emissions. But he can certainly increase the USA’s.
Trump plans to increase the USA’s emissions
While climate change hardly featured as a topic during the election campaing, Trump has mentioned his plans to wreck the planet a few times:
- April 2016: Trump said he would close down the Environmental Protection Agency, although he managed to get the name wrong, calling it the Department of Environmental.
- May 2016: Trump called for reducing restrictions on energy exploration, opening up more federal lands to drilling, reopening negotiations to build the Keystone XL pipeline, and reopening coal mines.
- October 2016: Trump said he would raise money for inner city infrastructure by stopping funding for climate change:
I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama-Clinton, including all global warming payments to the United Nations. These steps will save $100 billion over 8 years, and this money will be used to help rebuild the vital infrastructure, including water systems, in America’s inner cities.