The executive order signed by US President Donald Trump to radically alter climate change policies could sound the “death knell” to the historic Paris Agreement but though it can delay America’s transition to clean energy, it cannot stop it, green bodies today said.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that the US President’s move sets a “bad precedent” and eliminates much of the already “modest” initiatives started by the previous Barack Obama administration to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
The green body said that due to US inaction, the onus will now fall on other countries to substantially scale up their ambitions to address climate change.
The decision is one of a series of “short-sighted, badly-informed” moves that is subservient to the fossil fuel industry, harms global communities and further damages Trump’s reputation among real world leaders, Greenpeace USA said.
“In a move which could potentially sound the death knell to the Paris Agreement on climate change, US president Donald Trump signed a sweeping Executive Order on ‘Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth’.
“The order eliminates much of the already ‘modest’ policies and initiatives started by the Obama administration to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the US,” CSE said.
Trump signed the controversial executive order to radically change his predecessor’s climate policies, dealing a body blow to international efforts to combat global warming.
Trump signed the order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), keeping his campaign promise to support the coal industry.
“As the US is historically the largest polluter, its failure to meet international commitments will unravel the Paris Agreement that was signed by 195 countries in 2015 to fight climate change.
“Trump’s move sets a bad precedent. Due to the US inaction, the onus will now fall on other countries to substantially scale up their ambitions to address climate change,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
Bhushan said that with the new order and the budget proposal, Trump has shown that he does not believe in climate change and has decided to “go back” on his nation’s global commitments to reduce emissions and provide funding.
“The US, being the top historical polluter, should have been raising the ambition to address climate change. The Trump administration has instead attacked former President Obama’s climate action plan, vowed to make coal competitive and put fossil fuel-based economy on top of its agenda,” Bhushan said.
The Paris Agreement was adopted on December 12, 2015 with the objective of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degree C and strive for 1.5 degree C by eliminating use of fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy sources. (MORE) Under its climate action plan, US has pledged to cut its emissions by a weak target of 26-28 per cent by 2025 against 2005 levels.
“This executive order gives us further proof that Trump is not a leader, he is just a fossil fuel industry stooge with a presidential pen. Thankfully, for all his bluster, the best Trump can do is delay America’s inevitable transition to clean energy, but he cannot stop it.
“The problem, of course, is how much devastation his administration will inflict on the climate, vulnerable communities, and the environment in the meantime. With this executive order, the Trump administration is simply putting America further behind in the global race towards a renewable future,” Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said.
The order directs all agencies to conduct a review of all regulations, rules, policies and guidance documents that put up roadblocks to domestic energy production.
The order directs the EPA to take several actions to reflect the president’s environmental and economic goals, including a review of the new performance standards for coal- fired and natural gas-fired plants that amount to a de facto ban on new coal plant production in the US.
“Most importantly, Trump has refused to fund the Global Climate Change Initiative, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF). GCF had been set up to help developing countries adapt to climate change and move to low-carbon technologies.
“One of the key attributes of the Paris Agreement is the commitment by nations like the US to provide financial support to developing nations. With the defunding of GCF and other international climate change-related initiatives, the US has gone back on commitments to the Paris Agreement,” CSE said.
Greenpeace said that Trump’s attempt to undo the climate protections ensured in the 2015 EPA regulations will be “vigorously” challenged in court.
“Given the administration’s recent track record, that gives us hope that this rollback of environmental policies would not stand and justice will ensure these laws continue to protect the environment and the vulnerable communities most affected by climate change,” said Leonard.
Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International Executive Director said that the real leaders are taking urgent action on climate change and clean energy because it is good for their people and it is good for their economy.
“Trump may be able to delay America’s inevitable transition to clean energy and cause unnecessary harm at home and abroad, but he cannot stop it because its momentum is too great. Ultimately, the Trump administration is shooting itself in the foot. Climate change is a widely-recognised threat to US security and the US economy, while the already growing transition to a clean energy future brings immediate benefits to all our economies, health, security and jobs,” Morgan said.
She said the US government may not honour its climate commitment, but plenty of US states, local governments and businesses will and the world will move ahead with or without Trump.