What Trump’s executive order on climate change means for the world


A woman wearing a mask on a heavily polluted day in Beijing.

(CNN)Less than a week after the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare, President Trump will sign an executive order that could spell the end of Obama-era environmental policy.

The order will curb the enforcement of a number of climate regulations, in an effort, the Trump administration says, to prioritize American jobs above addressing climate change.

What effects will it have?

According to Mark Lynas, a British author, journalist and environmental activist who focuses on climate change, the order “is intended to make coal competitive again in the US economy, by refossilizing the US power sector and demonstrably increasing carbon emissions.”
“This is politically symbolic, as it will show that the Obama legacy on climate can be deleted,” he added.
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant located 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in 2013.

The order will, among other things, rescind the moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands and initiate a review of the Clean Power Plant initiative: “Without it, the country will be lacking a very important signal in decarbonizing a sector which emits a lot,” said Ajay Gambhir, a Policy Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London.
It will also weaken a number of environmental protection policies that are not strictly related to climate change, but to such things as protecting the waterways: “By removing economy-harming regulations, the door will be left open for health-harming regulations,” said Gambhir.

What does it mean for the world?

While the order focuses on domestic policies, it will likely signal a shift in the US’s global approach to climate change.
“The rest of the world will be asked to cover for the US falling behind,” said Lynas.
“It’s extremely concerning and I can only hope that the people’s response to Trump’s order will be sufficient to reverse it.”
But some experts retain an optimistic view, arguing that the momentum towards renewable energy is unstoppable: “The damage this administration can do might be less then most people think: of course it will slow things down, and that’s the last thing we need, but business leaders are smart enough to understand that they must invest in renewable energy,” said Karsten Haustein, a climate systems and policy researcher at the University of Oxford.
The order could have implications around the world.

“It might send a bad signal to some countries which may loosen their efforts seeing that the US isn’t decarbonizing, but I expect most to carry on with the plans they have been developing for some time — as innovation and cost reduction continue they will find it easier and less costly to reduce their emissions,” said Gambhir.
The effects may therefore be more ideological than practical: “The most harmful way this administration can act is by undermining people’s trust in science and scientific evidence, by putting climate change deniers in positions of power. As a scientist I’m worried about what that means for my colleagues in the US,” said Haustein.

Who will lead the charge now?

If the US will be perceived to step down from its role in combating climate change, will this create a leadership vacuum?
According to Lynas, the big question is what attitude China will adopt.
Obama's Energy Secretary on Trump's climate plans

Obama’s Energy Secretary on Trump’s climate plans 01:22
“As the world’s largest emitter, if China continues to fulfill the deal that was made with Obama all is not lost, but if it seizes the opportunity to abandon the Paris agreement, then we really face an extreme and terrifying future.”
Europe is unlikely to step into the driving seat, says Haustein: “Unfortunately Europe is muddled up with other political issue like Brexit, and the UK is unlikely to do anything about this in the next two years.This move will destabilize the political world to some degree. Perhaps Canada?”
But we might not have lost a leader after all, according to Gambhir: “In the run up to the Copenhagen talks in 2009 there was a degree of leadership from the EU, with China and the US falling behind. These two gave strong signals in the run up to Paris in 2015, but there was no sign of the US being an unequivocally global leader,” he said.
“There’s no need for one specific region to lead, but a requirement that many regions act multilaterally.”

One thought on “What Trump’s executive order on climate change means for the world

  1. About 30% % of the U.S. still blindly supports this Trump/Bannon, White Supremacist, Goldman Sachs Regime, which is now in the process (Steve Bannon’s baby) of dismantling any and all regulations relating to the EPA, climate change, oil & gas production, mining, soil, water, air, while increasing more “opportunities” to slaughter wild animals.

    Political historians now say that this is by far, the worst, most corrupt, most decadent bunch, even making Nixon look better. In the short time this, money-laundering, mafia-connected regime has been in the WH, millions of dollars have been spent on Trump’s travels back and forth to his residences. He and his brood act like Oligarchy.

    Trump has just recently demanded at least $60 Million more for the several Secret Service teams needed to guard his brood-family and him. At this rate, we working people, who have to pay taxes (unlike Trump), will most likely see higher taxes (lower taxes for the wealthy), and more cuts in the necessary programs that a civilized society should have.

    Steve Bannon’s agenda of dismantling the Administrative State, while increasing the War Machine, and Fossil Fuel Production, is going well. All civilized societies maintain a strong, healthy Administrative government, which provides the needed support to The People, by way of social, educational, health, and arts/sciences programs. Bannon’s agenda is anti-intellectual, pro-religion, anti-social, isolationist, and very pro gun and war.

    This scenario is 1984 Revisited, but with all the very dangerous technological, nuclear hardware.

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