We all know it’s early days with Donald Trump at the helm of the world’s most influential country, but it was his language espoused through the recent election campaign that sent shivers of horror through the souls of every climate change activist across the globe. As far as keeping the earth’s rising temperature to below a 1.5 degree increase this century, then it seems we have just taken an ominous step backwards. No wonder there is panic out there.
Trump is an overt climate-change denier, and it is easy to draw parallels with him and Tony Abbott.
Although Trump’s political career may also end up in tatters, ultimately America will be faced with the damaging consequences of what a pre-eminent global-warming recalcitrant can do in a short time period. This is exactly what happened in Australia.
Let’s face it, Australia’s position on addressing CO2 emissions has declined to Neanderthal thinking since the Liberals have taken governance in recent years, and today we are virtually on the bottom of the world’s list of nations addressing global warming mitigation. Both America’s and Australia’s commitments to the 2015 Paris agreement look anything but convincing, and it wasn’t for the stellar efforts of ex-president Obama there probably wouldn’t have been any American agreement whatsoever.
Trump stood firm on his opinions prior to the US election, by claiming he doesn’t accept the scientific evidence that climate change is real. He also stated he wants to dismantle the Paris 2015 agreement, which 196 countries agreed on to set targets towards reversing the worst effects of global warming.
On a technical note the US cannot withdraw from the Paris Agreement, though they can simply just ignore it.
America is responsible for about 13% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, that’s second only to China, so the US position is significant. However other international signatories to the Paris agreement may have to continue on without the Trump government’s compliance, as high emission countries like China and India have their own reasons to reduce greenhouse gases.
Already Trump has been clear about his intent by claiming - “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”. He also has enlisted Myron Ebell, an avowed climate denier, to head his Environmental Protection Authority transition team.
Trump said straight up, that he wants to scrap all the major regulations that President Obama painstakingly put in place to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions, including the Clean Power Plan. There is also the danger that Trump, through the Republicans in Congress, could be successful in passing a law that would forbid the EPA from regulating C02 ever again.
As a pre-election claim, he vowed to repeal all on clean energy federal spending, including Resource and Development for wind, solar, and electric vehicles. It all has a familiar ring to the Abbott era of Australian coal industry vested politics.
Donald Trump is a mirror of G.W Bush who refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol back in 2001. The global issue of Climate Change will be ongoing, even long after Donald Trump is gone. The prospect of staying below 2°C looked bleak even prior to Trump’s election.
But all is not dire, as there are notable elements well out of Trump’s control.
American States such as California and New York are still pursuing their own ambitious climate change mitigation policies with massive renewable energy projects, and it’s possible that other states may decide to follow suit as the renewable energy sector already employs 2.5 million people in the US.
Even without support from the Trump government. The US and global economics in renewable energy, and electric vehicles will become influential as production demand rises, and base construction prices become cheaper.
Other countries still have their own reasons for tackling climate change such as China and India’s pollution problem, which is driving change away from coal reliance into renewable energy.
Climate activists will continue action on international levels, and it’s possible that opposition to Trump may even galvanize a new generation of climate activists.
US coal production slumped 10% last year, with mining jobs shrinking by 12%. Over the same 12-month period, the US oil industry lost $67bn. Such an industrial decline has been caused by global market forces, and even Trump’s authoritarianism doesn’t extend far enough to change that.
Trump is so delusional he claimed with a fossil fuel-based industry that - “Under my administration we’ll accomplish complete American energy independence. Imagine a world in which our foes, and the oil cartels, can no longer use energy as a weapon. It will happen. We’re going to win.”
Despite Trump having support in Congress, his prophecy of making America great again is mere rhetoric if it is based on developing dinosaur technology. Whether or not Trump becomes a belated convert to the reality of climate change, the physics of global warming will remain unchanged.
Like Abbott, Trump’s absolution will probably never eventuate, and they will both be resigned to the infamous recognition of political fools.
Out of the 196 signatories to the Paris climate pact, 103 nations have ratified the agreement, which constitutes to 70% of all greenhouse emissions. Even with America and Australia dragging their feet on global warming mitigation, the Paris agreement remains significant.
Australians should be concerned towards climate change action within their own country. We need to be highly proactive in advocating renewable energy infrastructure and products, and acknowledge the economical benefits to the economy that it will provide.
Without America’s action on global warming the world can still move forward, it’s just made universal objectives more of a challenge.
*Ted Mead is a climate change believer, and is bewildered why there are so many deniers when it is clearly obvious through human occupation and irresponsible attitudes, that we have altered the ecological balances of the environments we live in, and are dependent upon for our own survival.