Down to Earth reports: With his executive order, which lifts the ban on coal production and lifts restrictions on production of oil, natural gas, ‘clean coal’ and shale energy, U.S. President Donald Trump has literally started the process of dismantling the Paris Climate Agreement— the landmark international pact adopted in 2015 to fight climate change.
US President Donald Trump’s executive order on “promoting energy independence and economic growth” is set to destroy his former counterpart Barack Obama’s green legacy.
Trump’s order, which was signed on Tuesday, literally starts the process of dismantling the Paris Agreement—the landmark international pact adopted in 2015 to fight climate change.
Stating that “my administration would put an end to war on coal”, Trump’s executive order lifts the ban on federal leasing for coal production. It also lifts restrictions on production of oil, natural gas, clean coal and shale energy. The big question is will this move put an end to war against climate change?
By this order, the Trump administration, known for its skepticism on climate change, has overturned Obama’s policies on climate change. It has revoked many of the former president’s climate policies.
It also calls for immediate reviewing of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was at the core of Obama’s climate action plan to cut down emissions. Earlier, the budget decided to eliminate funding for the CPP. The CPP is literally over with this order.
The CPP regulation aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from US power plants by 32 per cent below their 2005 emissions level by 2030. Internationally, as part of its climate commitments, the US has pledged to reduce its emissions by a weak target of 26-28 per cent by 2025 against the 2005 levels.
Earlier in its budget, the Trump administration cancelled its funding of the global Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is meant to help developing countries address climate change.
With the budget declaration and current executive order, it is evident that the US has gone back on its climate commitments.
Key features of the executive order
- The order revokes moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands. This will lead to increasing production and consumption of coal
- It calls for immediate review of all agency actions and cancels, revises or revokes any rule or action that potentially burdens the development of domestic energy resources
- It revokes six previous presidential executive orders under Obama’s administration, including the one on preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change, and also the memorandum for the power sector carbon pollution standards. The US power sector is the major emitter of greenhouse gases. In 2015, it alone was responsible for emitting 2 billion tonnes of CO2.
- It revokes the climate action plan strategy to reduce methane emissions
- It initiates an immediate review of the CPP initiative.
What this means for the US
The US has clearly signaled its intention of completely fossilising its economy, implying reckless production and consumption of fossil fuels, leading to increased carbon emissions globally.
Trump’s speech, as he signed the executive order, focused on eliminating federal overreach and prioritising American jobs over addressing climate change. Accordingly, the strategy of restoring or increasing jobs is the development of domestic sources of energy. However, market trends reveal that there is an upsurge in jobs in the clean energy sector and in this regard Trump’s decision could actually prove to be counter-productive.
Who will lead the climate efforts?
In the current political muddle that the European Union (EU) is facing, it is unlikely that the EU, though a leader in the climate change issue earlier, would immediately step into the driver’s seat at this juncture. China has shown willingness to take up leadership role, but the international community waits to see how it tackles climate change domestically and internationally, and also what it does to improve its credibility. There is uncertainty on who would lead a country or a coalition of countries, one has to wait and watch.
What about the Paris Agreement
The US administration has not indicated any immediate plan to withdraw out of the Paris Agreement. It will thus be part of the negotiations and hamper the progress towards addressing climate change. This is substantiated by the nomination of climate skeptic and ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as the Secretary of State, who will also serve as the chief climate negotiator.
Further, the executive order of the US sets a bad precedence for other countries that may also follow the US’ footsteps and dilute their climate actions or choose to opt out of the Paris climate deal.
Considering the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related impacts, ideally the US, being the largest historical emitter, should revamp its energy administration and scale up its ambitions.
On the other hand, the US under Trump, has completely shrugged off its responsibility to address climate change and has chosen to have a fossil fuel-based economy and back off on its climate commitments of emission cuts and finance.
The US failing to accomplish its climate targets would mean that achieving the objective of the Paris Agreement to stay within the safe temperature limits of 2 degrees Celsius and strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius would be next to impossible now. The onus then falls on other countries to heavily scale up their climate efforts and try to save the planet.
Trump Repeal of Climate Rules Means U.S. Paris Target Now Out of Reach
Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News
Whether the U.S. meets its emissions-reduction commitments under the Paris climate accord is pivotal to the success of the global agreement, but the Trump administration’s policies have all but ensured the U.S. will fall far short. One recent analysis says the country will miss its target by more than 1 billion metric tons. The nation is a third of the way to that target, but the rest was to be achieved via an array of regulations, especially the Clean Power Plan, that are now targeted for elimination by President Donald Trump.
Don’t just defend Obama’s legacy against Trump: fight for radical climate action
Kate Aronoff, The Guardian
The fossil fuel industry is rejoicing. Donald Trump issued an executive order on Tuesday that would tear up many of the so-called burdensome climate protections – those regulating things like power plant emissions and leasing to coal companies – put in place by the Obama administration. Horrified by this move, many have vowed to jump to their defense. That’s not enough. The clean power plan, perhaps the biggest target of today’s executive order, is far from perfect. That’s why we must do more than simply defending existing policies: now is the moment to fight for something better.
Only Sweden, Germany and France among EU are pursuing Paris climate goals, says study
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian
Sweden, Germany and France are the only European countries pursuing environmental policies in line with promises made at the Paris climate conference, according to a new ranking study. The UK is in fifth position in the table which assesses policy actions taken by EU states to meet Europe’s pledge of a 40% cut in carbon emissions by 2030. Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain and Italy are judged to be propping up the league, due to their support for forestry and carbon accounting dodges that weaken the greenhouse gas reduction effort.