Professor Michael Mann Discussing Trump’s environmental record, he told, a Trump victory would basically be ‘game over for the climate’.
by Maria Chiorando
Victory for Donald Trump in the U.S election could be a disaster for the environment, scientists have warned.
The incumbent president, who is running against Democrat Joe Biden, has faced criticism over his environmental stance while in office.
Trump and the environment
Critics have attacked Trump for questioning climate science. Business Insider reports Trump denying a link between California’s wildfires and climate change.
During a September meeting, the president is quoted as saying: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch…I don’t think science knows, actually.”
While some agree with Trump, the comment was critiqued by UCL associate professor in climate science Dr. Chris Brierley, who said ‘the world was getting warmer and would continue to do so’.
He added: “You’ll have some anomalously cold years and some anomalously hot years but it is certainly going up.”
The president has also come under fire from former officials, who accused his Environmental Protection Agency of ‘having a war on the environment’ after it reversed numerous protection laws.
These included ‘rules meant to clean up the air, defend waterways from industrial pollution and fight climate change’.
Donald Trump and the Paris Agreement
But one of environmentalists’ biggest fears over a potential Trump victory is his rejection of the Paris Climate Agreement. The president started the process to withdraw from it last year. As it stands, the U.S will exit the deal on November 4 – the day after the election.
This global plan to fight climate change came into force in 2016 following years of negotiations.
Under the accord, all major emitting countries pledged to reduce their climate-altering pollution, to set goals and report back. The agreement also provides developing countries with a pathway in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. It has framework for monitoring collective climate goals.
Broadly speaking, its overall aim is to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Ideally, the limit is 1.5 degrees Celsius.
This limit is considered ‘a general indicator of where many climate impacts – on balance – go from destructive to catastrophic.’
Global temperature increases beyond this will lead to extreme heatwaves, flooding, water scarcity and more.
The Accord has not yet reached its targets. Reports say there ‘have been some achievements in cutting emissions’. However, they add, countries have not done enough to ‘limit the temperature rise to 2C’.
According to the Guardian: “The world is already about 1C hotter than the pre-industrial period. Despite the Paris agreement, it is on track to become around 3C hotter.”
The outlet acknowledges that ‘few countries are on track to fulfil commitments made in Paris five years ago’.
But, it ponders whether, ‘progress might have been different had Trump not triggered U.S withdrawal from the fight in 2017’.
Donald Trump and leaving the agreement
Legally, Donald Trump was unable to withdraw from the agreement during his term in office. He started the year-long withdrawal process in 2019. But he stated his intention to leave in 2017.
Announcing his decision, he said the agreement ‘handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense’.
Blasting the ‘unfair’ deal, Trump said he’d ‘begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction’. But only ‘on terms that are fair to the U.S’.
‘All cost, no benefit’
In light of this, many people believe the move was economics-driven. According to Professor Michael Gerrard, from New York’s Columbia University: “Trump believes that regulations are all cost and no benefit.
“He denies that there really is such a thing as anthropogenic climate change, or at least that it is bad. He believes if you cut back on regulations of all kinds, not just environmental, but…everything else, it’ll create more jobs.”
Others have suggested a different reason prompted the decision.
Paul Bledsoe, who previously served in the Clinton administration, is an adviser to the Progressive Policy Institute. (A Democratic think tank). He believes the move is more about the culture war between than economics.
“Trump is convinced that climate change is a culture war issue that ignites the resentment of his far right base. So he sees this as a cultural effort to ignite grievance among his base. It has no other function for him,” he said.
A Biden victory?
Biden has vowed to rejoin the Accord if he becomes president. He has vowed to ‘ensure the U.S. achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions [by] 2050’, in his climate plan.
According to reports, Trump ‘has avoided making specific energy or environment pledges during this election campaign’.
‘A Trump victory’
Professor Michael Mann is a leading climate scientist based at Pennsylvania State University. Discussing Trump’s environmental record, he told i a Trump victory would basically be ‘game over for the climate’.
Professor Mann added: “If we are going to avert catastrophic climate change impacts, we must limit warming below 1.5C. “
‘Another four years of what we have seen under Trump’ would make that ‘essentially impossible’ he said.
He cited ‘outsourcing environmental and energy policy to the polluters’ as one example from the last four years. ‘Dismantling protections put in place by the previous administration’ was another.
“It is a make or break election when it comes to the climate. There is no other way to put it,” he said.
‘A decision of great consequence’
It isn’t just a U.S issue, as numerous commentators have said. Laurence Tubiana is a French diplomat and key architect of the Paris Accord. She branded Trump’s intention to withdraw ‘a decision of great consequence, to both the U.S and the world’.
“The rest of the world is moving to a low-carbon future. But we need to collectively start moving even faster. The U.S still has a significant global role to play in marshaling this effort,” Tubiana added.
She blasted the Trump administration’s ‘dangerous anti-climate stance’ for having a ‘negative impact on international climate efforts’. For example, Australia and Brazil’s right-wing governments are now trying to downplay the urgency of reducing emissions, she said.
‘Unrealistic without the U.S’
Todd Stern was the U.S’s chief negotiator when the Paris Agreement was sealed in 2015. Speaking earlier this year about a potential Trump victory, his position was similar to Tubiana’s.
Stern described Trump’s announcement about withdrawing from the deal as ‘sickening’ and branded it ‘mendacious from start to finish’.
“I was furious … because here we have this really important thing and here’s this joker who doesn’t understand anything he’s talking about. It was a fraud,” he said.
“The choice of Biden or Trump in the White House is huge. Not just for the U.S but for the world generally to deal with climate change. If Biden wins, November 4 is a blip, like a bad dream is over.
“If Trump wins, he seals the deal. The U.S becomes a non-player and the goals of Paris become very, very difficult. Without the U.S in the long term, they certainly aren’t realistic.”
Originally published at Plant based news