What effect would a Trump presidency have on the environment in the US and the wider world?

Published by Conor Mulvihill on

21st of July 2016

The Presidency of the United States is considered the most powerful position in the world, leading the only contemporary superpower, a nation with the largest economy and the most powerful military in the world, possessing the ability to significantly affect what happens both in the United States and abroad. If Trump becomes President his attitude towards the environment would not only negatively affect the US but his policies could resonate throughout the rest of the world. Trump just like a lot of politicians is exploiting people’s fears over jobs, the economy and energy independence when promoting fossil fuel projects with the hope of rolling back regulations to enjoy a few more years of deregulated, scorched-earth economics.

Trump claims the Paris agreement treats the United States unfairly and gives favorable treatment to countries like China. ‘I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else,’ he said. A renegotiation of the pact would be a major setback for what was hailed as the first truly global climate accord, committing both rich and poor nations to reining in the rise in greenhouse gas emissions blamed for warming the planet.”

Trump also promised to cancel Obama’s measures to reduce emissions, slash funding for the American EPA, rebuild the coal industry, stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs, and to support fracking. Trump didn’t clarify his position on manmade climate change, but he has said in the past that he is not “a great believer,” and that manmade climate change is “a total hoax,” “bullshit” and a concept “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” The sincerity of Trump’s climate denial is brought into question by the fact that he is applying for permission to build a seawall in Ireland to protect one of his golf courses from rising sea levels.

Trump has placed little emphasis on the science of change climate or the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who agree that top emitters must act urgently to address global warming. President Obama has made the issue a priority despite widespread denial of climate science from the American right. When considering Trumps record and views when it comes to the environment, the idea of Trump becoming president has left a lot of foreign leaders left feeling very concerned.

“If a climate change denier was to be elected, it would threaten dramatically global action against climate disruption,” said French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who led the Paris climate conference in December, earlier this month. “We must not think that everything is settled.”

These aren’t just Trump plans for the environment; he already has a terrible record when it comes to this area. A few years ago, Donald Trump promised Scotland he’d invest $1.5 billion in their economy and create 6,000 jobs with the construction of a golf course in Aberdeenshire. This didn’t happen. Instead, Trump invested about $38 million and created 200 jobs. But that’s not all. To build the course, environmentally-sensitive areas of Scotland’s coast were bulldozed; local water manes were destroyed, depriving residents of water for days; and when a coastal wind farm was to be built near the location of a proposed second golf course, Trump threw a tantrum and abandoned the project. “I am not thrilled,” said Trump about the turbines. “I want to see the ocean, I do not want to see windmills.”

The end of U.S. regulation addressing climate change would yield the Paris Agreement essentially worthless and significantly undermine global climate action. Because the next US President has the ability to determine whether the international community continue to make progress or slide backward in the fight against the climate crisis. The next President must create real and lasting solutions that cut carbon pollution while creating a clean energy future that continues to improve the economy and creates jobs not just in the US but around the world.

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Conor Mulvihill

Conor is Communications Assistant with the Irish Environmental Network. His background is in science and he has a masters in international relations.