Time to look seriously at what a Trump presidency would do to climate change.
- China and the United States don’t need to go to war to destroy civilization as we know it.
They just need to keep pumping the skies full of carbon dioxide for 75 more years, slowly turning much of the planet into a wasteland.
- Asked how China would work with a potential Trump-led White House on global warming, Beijing’s top climate change negotiator said that a “wise political leader” would embrace policy in line with “global trends.”
“If they resist this trend, I don’t think they’ll win the support of their people,” Xie Zhenua told Reuters. “And their country’s economic and social progress will also be affected.”
So let’s look at some of the implications of a Trump presidency.
The Paris Agreement
China and the US together produce 38% of world emissions.
It was thought that if the US pulled out of the Paris agreement, as threatened by Trump, then China might also, and the whole deal would collapse. For the agreement to come into force, 55% of nations must participate and 55% of emissions must be covered.
This BBC article says that a new American president would have to wait four years to withdraw from the deal. I’ve seen that elsewhere, so I’ll take it as read. So the global agreement is under no threat. The worst Trump could do is to sit on his hands, as our government is doing, and perhaps take steps to withdraw in four years time.
And no Obama didn’t bypass Congress, as Think Progress explains:
- In the United States, there are two types of agreements that are binding under international law: treaties and executive agreements. Whereas treaties are submitted to the Senate for approval by a two-thirds majority, executive agreements are made pursuant to the authority of a preceding treaty, a statute, or the foreign affairs power of the president. These authorities are not mutually exclusive.
Executive agreements account for the vast majority — more than 94 percent — of internationally binding agreements in the United States.
Back in 1992 the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was set up as a treaty joined by the George H.W. Bush administration with bipartisan support from the Senate. The UNFCCC was the main outcome of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The UNFCCC has a Conference of Parties every year, currently meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Trump’s attitude to climate science
Trump famously tweeted in 2012 that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He says that was a joke, but unfortunately he also appears to believe that climate science is a joke and a “hoax”. On the positive side Trump has claimed the right to change his mind on everything. On this one we can assume he will stay true to form, because Republican politicians who subscribe to mainstream climate science are rare.
A Think Progress article in May on the implications for climate of a Trump presidency says that:
- Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) was recently announced as Trump’s energy advisor. Cramer likes fossil fuel extraction, dislikes environmental regulations, and says mainstream climate science is based on “fraudulent science.”
A Scientific American article reports that Mike Pence thinks climate change is a myth, and a man called Myron Ebell, who questions the accuracy of mainstream climate scientists, has joined Trump’s transition team for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
Because of an unhelpful Congress most of Obama’s effort on climate change has been by way of executive action, such as regulation by the EPA and its Clean Power Plan.
Trump may find that he can’t change things with a stroke of a pen. I think his main weapon may be to dry up the funding, a technique used by the Abbott/Turnbull government.
Funding cuts are also a threat to climate science in such organisations as NASA, NOAA and the universities.
These issues are canvassed in the following articles:
Will the world burn? We’ll find out on Tuesday.
I’ll leave you with an article from Vox The unthinkably high stakes for climate change that we’ve completely ignored this election. They say the next president will make decisions that will echo for centuries. They mention in addition to the above, cuts to all clean energy RD&D and all contributions to the UN climate fund, plus Trump would do everything in his power to support both the coal and fracking industries. Also:
He’s asked climate denier Myron Ebell to head his EPA transition. He put dirty-energy lobbyist Mike McKenna in charge of the Energy Department transition, just one in the parade of industry lobbyists he’s put in charge of his energy and environment team.
Here’s Lux Research’s attempted to model the emissions difference between a Clinton and Trump presidency:
Roughly half the American voters may have voted for crimes against humanity.