Andreas Späth

Why President Trump would be bad for the environment

2016-07-27 11:10

Andreas Wilson-Späth

There are plenty of very good reasons to intensely dislike the idea of Donald Trump being elected as the next president of the United States – his rabid xenophobia and racism, his scare-mongering jingoism, and much else. What often falls by the wayside in discussions of a possible Trump presidency is his attitude towards environmental matters.

You might think that his ascendancy would have little impact on green issues half a planet away at the southern end of Africa, but unfortunately things like climate change and pollution don’t respect national boundaries. Trump’s environmental policies (or the lack thereof) and those contained in the Republican Party’s election platform will affect us both directly and indirectly, which is yet another reason to keep a close eye on what’s going to happen in the USA on the 8th of November.

The sections of the Republican Party platform dealing with energy and environmental matters might as well have been written by a public relations hack from the American fossil fuel industry. Among other things, it:

- promises to bring an end to President Obama’s “war on coal” and “the Democratic Party’s radical anti-coal agenda”;

- calls coal “an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource” instead of the chief cause of climate change;

- undertakes to complete the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline designed to connect Canadian oil sand facilities – perhaps the most environmentally destructive mining project in the world – to refineries and export terminals on the US Gulf coast;

- pledges to negate federal regulations on fracking and to facilitate an increase in the export of liquefied natural gas;

- supports oil and gas drilling on publically-owned land, including offshore on the continental shelf;

- opposes “any carbon tax” intended to lower carbon dioxide emissions;

- rejects popular calls for the mandatory labelling of genetically modified food;

- proposes to hand responsibility for much environmental policy, regulation and enforcement from the national government to the states while converting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – a potentially powerful and meddlesome regulator – into “an independent bipartisan commission” (and we all know how much work gets accomplished by commissions);

- rejects “the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement”; and

- proposes to stop funding for the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

When it comes to climate change, Trump himself has changed his tune completely since before his election campaign. While he has in the past joined calls for effective international action on carbon emissions, he now rejects climate change as little more than a hoax, opining that “global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”.

In line with the official Republican Party platform, he plans to abolish the EPA and “save the coal industry”, while cancelling the USA’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement and stopping “all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs”.

Recently, the Sierra Club, a prominent American environmental organisation, reported that, if elected president, Trump would be the only world leader to entirely reject the scientific consensus on the reality of human-caused climate change – a distinction he would no doubt embrace enthusiastically.

The green credentials of Trump’s running mate and would-be vice president, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, are no less depressing. When he was a member of the US Congress he consistently voted against eco-friendly legislation and according to him, “global warming is a myth”.

Heaven help us if these people are allowed to assume the mantle of world leadership at the end of the year.

- Andreas is a freelance writer with a PhD in geochemistry. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  us elections 2016


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