Donald J. Trump was just elected President of the United States and will be be backed by a Republican Congress. The U.N. climate talks are underway in Marrakesh, Morocco, and the U.S. election cycle continues to be a three ring media circus. You can bet the latter will affect the former. What might climate action look like in the United States in the aftermath of this presidential election?
Unfortunately, between Hillary Clinton’s emails and Donald Trump’s constant flow of offensive commentary, there was little space for actual policy discussions. However, what remains clear is that Clinton and Trump maintain diverging views on climate change. Clinton released a comprehensive policy plan for clean energy and pledged to make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities for her presidency. Yet, Trump’s views must be interpreted through tweets and ad-libbed comments such as, “I believe in clean air, immaculate air, but I don’t believe in climate change.”
Bottom line: The future P.O.T.U.S. believes climate change is a hoax made up by China.
Based on statements made during his campaign, the forthcoming Trump Administration will abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, renew commitment to U.S. fossil fuel industries, and take action to “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement”–an agreement signed by 193 countries. Even if President Trump chooses not to withdraw from the Paris deal, he could refuse to adhere to commitments under the agreement. It’s not hard to imagine Trump delaying and withholding funds to undermine any attempt to fulfil President Barack Obama’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. No matter how you look at it, under Trump, the U.S. can be counted on to derail global efforts for climate action, a stance that will cause it to lose standing in the international community as well.
That said, U.S. climate action isn’t just determined by the presidency, it also has to do with the ratio of representatives from each party elected to United States Congress. The GOP secured majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Most Republicans are convinced the Paris Agreement will negatively impact the U.S. economy. Among their ranks is the chairman of the Science Committee in the House of Representatives, Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, who does not believe in climate change. As exemplified by the past eight years under President Obama, a dysfunctional Congress makes climate action implausible through legislative action. Congress’ refusal to act pushed President Obama to seek executive action to influence the nation’s climate policy–a tactic that could also be adopted by president elect Trump. A future for climate action in the U.S. appears almost non existent.
‘Murikkka has shown its ass once again. The world is aghast and in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, the U.S. will be a country divided. Over half the nation voted for a blatantly white supremacist candidate. The joke is, none of this is surprising. In the aftermath of this election, it will be extremely difficult to accomplish anything in terms of climate action and the same black and brown people will continue to suffer. With no understanding of the notion of diplomacy, the president elect will be sure to bully his way through every future U.N. climate he attends and put us all back a hundred years. From the first American climate change refugees on the Gulf Coast to the water protectors at Standing Rock, marginalized communities of color in the United States vulnerable to climate change require a government that will advocate for their future. That is not what we got. We deserve better and we will continue to fight for it.