Setback to climate action plans

January 27, 2017 12:04 am | Updated November 28, 2021 10:03 pm IST

That Donald Trump’s scepticism about climate change will adversely impact policies to address global warming became abundantly clear minutes after his swearing-in as U.S. President. The White House website quickly deleted all mention of climate change. Turning its attention to other agencies, the Trump administration instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to follow suit and scrub all mention of climate change from its website as well. But following a protest by scientists and others, the administration softened its stand and indicated that the agency’s website was only being “reviewed” and that it had “no immediate plans to remove the content” on climate change. Mr. Trump has also resurrected the controversial Keystone XL, that former President Barack Obama had blocked after a protracted battle with policymakers, and Dakota Access pipelines. The Trump administration had issued a gag order to scientists at the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop them from speaking to the media; it subsequently changed its policy with respect to EPA but has mandated that even routine data and studies be “reviewed” before being released to the public. In line with his thinking that “global warming is an expensive hoax”, Mr. Trump plans to re-energise the fossil-fuel industry. The America First Energy Plan listed on the White House website aims to increase fossil fuel extraction in the name of creating more jobs, and in the process “eliminating”, among other things, Mr. Obama’s climate action plan.


Even more alarming is Mr. Trump’s intention to reverse America’s involvement in the historic Paris climate accord. Under the pact, 195 countries have agreed to limit the increase in global temperature since pre-industrial time to less than 2°C in the 21st century, and try to work towards reaching a tougher target of 1.5°C. In November 2014, Mr. Obama announced a new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Among other measures taken in 2015, the U.S. had finalised the clean power plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. With the average global temperature already reaching 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels, there are fears that further delay will have long-term repercussions that would be near impossible to mitigate. With the current and proposed policies by the U.S. already inadequate to meet the Paris target, any negative deviation from the plan will have implications for the entire world.

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