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September 25, 2018

The Donald and climate change

US President-elect Donald Trump. /FILE
US President-elect Donald Trump. /FILE

Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States has inspired many. But Trump's triumph has also caused despondency among hundreds of millions in America and across the globe. Minorities in America doubt that a Trump administration will defend and uphold their inalienable rights. America’s staunch allies are befuddled.

A number of issues such as trade and defense have raised concerns among US’s staunch allies. Throughout his campaign, Trump lambasted international trade agreements and stoked domestic anger over the effects of globalisation and automation. On his campaign trail, he made it clear that under his administration, US military support for Nato member states would depend on whether those states meet their financial obligations to the security bloc.

But perhaps what is most disconcerting is what President-elect Trump thinks about climate change. He is a climate change denier. According to him, climate change is a hoax invented by and for the Chinese to make the US non-competitive in the manufacturing sector. He has vowed to dismantle the Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force early November after 55 nations that produce 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions formally signed up.

The President-elect digs coal. Trump is determined to revive coalfield across the Appalachia. During his campaign, he promised to eliminate federal regulations that target coal-fired power plants, one of the main sources of carbon emissions responsible for global warming. Trump held politically charged rallies with coal miners and swore to get rid of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and bring back jobs to Appalachia.

He speaks to the absurd fears of millions of Americans. Climate change is just some Chinese April Fools Day prank? Appalachian coal has a future in global energy supplies? Building a wall along the U.S–Mexico border and a chokehold on global trade will resuscitate the Rust Belt?

Diplomats across the world are already planning how to respond to the biggest threat to the Paris Climate Agreement — President-elect Trump. Although the Paris Agreement contains no enforcement measures, a carbon tariff against the US is not far-fetched. Trump could trigger a vicious trade war over climate change if he misleads America into rejecting the agreement.

Canada, China, Mexico and the European Union have already begun to impose domestic carbon pricing programmes in place. It is therefore not inconceivable that these countries could consider imposing a carbon tariff on imports from America if it walks from the Paris Agreement.

 

Global warming is man-made. Coal is under assault from market forces. Cleaner-burning natural gas is coal’s enemy numero uno. It is highly unlikely that Trump will make coal great again. The glory of the Rust Belt is forever gone. And here Mitt Romney’s caution is instructive “ The Donald's promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University”.

One hopes that candidate Trump will be radically different from President Donald Trump. But so far, his choices of key appointees to his administration are not exceedingly reassuring. They are candidate Trump evangelicals.

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