Trump and McConnell have given us four years of climate denial and backwards movement on climate
According to the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, The Trump administration has so far taken 162 steps backwards in terms of undoing existing efforts to address climate change.
- One of his very first acts as President, on January 20th, 2017, was to “freeze” all new energy efficiency and renewable fuel standards that were to go into effect as a result of previous legislation under President Obama.
- Only four days after taking office, President Trump instructed the Secretary of the Army to “take all actions necessary and appropriate” to expedite the approval of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.
- Trump’s first budget proposed elimination of funding for a number of climate change-related programs, including the Clean Power Plan, the UNFCCC and international climate funds, the Energy Star program, clean energy research, and NASA earth science research.
- On March 28, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind the Clean Power Plan (CO2 emission standards for existing power plants), CO2 emission standards for new power plants, and methane emission standards for the oil and gas sector. He also revoked a moratorium on federal coal leasing.
- On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
- On August 21, 2017, President Trump disbanded the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment (NCA).
- In April, 2018, the EPA announced it would not enforce 2015 regulations aimed at cutting dangerous HFC emissions.
- In May, 2018, President Trump revoked the Federal Sustainability Plan, aimed at improving the sustainability of all federal agencies.
- In August, 2018, the EPA began rolling back federal clean car and fuel economy standards.
- In March, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management opened up 9 million acres of protected federal lands to oil and gas extraction.
- In September, 2019, BLM repealed regulations governing methane waste emissions.
- In August, 2020, BLM opened 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling.
We simply cannot afford four more years of climate denial and backwards movement on climate
Avoiding the most extreme effects of climate change will require, according to the 2018 report from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, a 45% cut in global carbon emissions by 2030, reaching a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This would keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Four more years of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell would instead mean:
- Increased drilling for oil and gas on federal lands and off-shore, including on protected wildlife refuges.
- Increased fracking and pipeline construction across the country.
- Increased subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, including efforts to revive the coal industry.
- Elimination of subsidies and incentives for solar and wind projects, electric cars, battery storage and clean energy research.
- Further lowering and elimination of emission standards for cars, power plants and industry.
- Continued denial about the real threats posed by climate change.
- Continued refusal to take responsibility for addressing climate change.
- Increasing, instead of decreasing, carbon emissions from the U.S.
- Increasing isolation from efforts by the rest of the world to seriously address climate change.
- Zero assistance in helping less wealthy countries to make the necessary changes to address climate change.
Global temperatures have already increased by approximately 1°C since the beginning of the industrial age. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now higher than they have been for at least one million years.
Carbon dioxide (along with certain other greenhouse gases, or GHG) absorbs heat from the sun and reflects it back to earth, thus creating the “greenhouse” effect of warming the earth’s surface. Climate scientists have enumerated in great detail the effects this has already had on global ecosystems upon which we all depend for our survival.
We cannot predict exactly what will happen if the earth continues to heat up. We do know, however, that if all 25 billion tons of ice that sit on top of Antarctica were to melt, sea levels would rise by more than 200 feet. We also know that increased temperatures cause increased drought, so if temperatures continue to rise, this will eventually lead to catastrophic crop failure across all major grain-producing areas of the globe.
Other possible effects of uncontrolled climate change include the collapse of ecosystems and the mass extinction of species, mass migration of people as coastal areas flood and extreme temperatures make areas of the world uninhabitable, and extreme weather events causing even more migration and disruption, as well as physical damage costing trillions of dollars to the global economy.
The Paris Climate Agreement, reached in December 2015, committed every country in the world to do what they could to prevent global warming from reaching 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Many campaigners at the time felt that a limit of 2°C was too high to prevent runaway climate change.
In November 2018, the latest report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed their worst fears. The verdict from the world’s leading climate scientists is that allowing global temperatures to increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels will create instabilities and extremes in global weather patterns which could be catastrophic to human civilisation as we know it.
Even 1.5°C of global warming will have serious consequences. Going beyond that is now too dangerous to contemplate.