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Donald John Trump: president-elect and a complete disaster for environmental policy?

Put bluntly, Trump appears to be a threat to the environment. In May 2016, he took the stage in North Dakota, accompanied by some outdated pop tune, to talk about his environmental policy. Trump vowed to undo a series of moves made by President Obama to protect the environment.

His “100-day action plan” includes revoking Obama’s actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions, protect US national waterways and regulate the fossil fuel industry. It is safe to say that Trump is not a believer in man-made climate change. And neither are the people he wants to put in charge of environmental policy.

There is no scientific uncertainty about the detrimental effects of climate change, but he has argued that: “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming”. He has even said, “the concept” was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

In December 2015, under the Paris agreement, landmark deals were made to combat climate change. The framework laid ground for international efforts to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.

The agreement was historic as it reflects a broader effort by nations, businesses and citizens to redirect the global economy down a path of low-carbon growth.

As one of Obama’s final actions as President, he jointly declared, with China, that they would be immediately signing the Paris agreement, which came into force on 4 November.

With Trump’s promises to reboot the fossil fuel industry and undo environmental acts put into place by Obama, the deal hangs in the balance. Green groups are willing to intensely protest against attempts by Trump to ditch the Paris deal. His environmental policies have been met by opposition from leaders around the world, including China.

There is a glimmer of hope, for the Paris deal at least; through what has been described as the ‘Anti-Trump clause’, Article 28. It states that a party can withdraw from the agreement only after three years, and that the withdrawal itself will not take effect for a year (four years altogether, ie: one presidential term). It may prove to be a saving grace.

It is safe to say that climate and environmental policy is on shaky ground; this is at a time when we desperately need progress.

I am, however, a firm believer that every little helps. We have power as individuals, and can choose to live our lives in the most sustainable way possible.

Image: GDJ (via Goodfreephots.com)

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The Student Newspaper 2016