Climate Change: Trump Sets Alarm Bells Ringing

American President Donald Trump is all set to keep one of his electoral promises, as he has decided to rollback his predecessor Barrack Obama’s climate plan.
It was expected from a climate change sceptic, like President Trump, to allow decades of hard fought advances against the global warming to go up in smoke. According to sources close to the White House, the president decided to ask Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite Obama era rules that made it impossible to build new coal-burning facilities without green processes.
Now, Trump is trying to rewrite the rule so that new coal plants can use a technology that is less effective at cutting emissions. A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the president, who wanted to lift the moratorium on federal coal leasing, would soon ask American agencies to stop worrying about carbon pollution and focus on creating jobs.
Setting the alarm bells ringing with his executive order aimed at rolling back most of Obama’s environmental legacy, President Trump has called global warming a “hoax”. The president may not aware of the fact that it is not going to be a simple matter of taking apart safeguards with a stroke of his pen. He will have to work really hard to reverse President Obama’s policy.
After receiving the president’s order, the EPA will start legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan (CPP) – the centrepiece of Obama’s policies against global warming. Although Trump’s order targets the Obama-era green policies (including lifting a ban on new coal mining on public lands), the president does not say whether he wants the US to stay in or withdraw from the Paris Climate deal. He has apparently been warned of a diplomatic backlash, if America withdraws from the Paris deal.
Trump’s order certainly has great implications. As his decision aims to cut power plant emissions to 32% below the 2005 levels by 2030, the CPP will be on hold because it will face judicial scrutiny. The president will ask the court to suspend the case until EPA writes a new version. He must go through a formal legislation and survive the legal challenges, which could take years. As far as review rules on methane emissions from oil and gas are concerned, President Obama set a goal to reduce these 40% below the 2012 levels by 2025. His successor may also try to rewrite these rules. But again, he will have to justify changes in the court.
While revisiting Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimate, the former president tried to assign a dollar value to the cost of emitting a tonne of CO2. In 2015, they settled on an estimate of USD 36 per tonne. Now, President Trump will have to explore ways to lower SCC estimates and that will make it harder for tough climate rules to pass cost-benefit analysis. Such a move may even face legal challenges.
The American government agencies are mandated to do environmental reviews of all major actions they take. With Trump repealing that order, it is unclear what practical impact it will have. Federal agencies could be asked to do this to promote “energy independence”. In that case, agencies will have to send their findings to the White House in the next 180 days.
If the American president achieves all he is seeking to, then America will unlikely to meet the Paris treaty pledge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 26% below the 2005 levels by 2025.
Soon after the White House official met the press, global climate experts expressed serious concern over the president’s proposed move, saying that it would be his reward for America’s coal region that voted overwhelmingly for him in hopes for mining jobs. However, a section of experts believes it is unlikely that new coal plants will come up soon in America, since natural gas is cheap. They have argued that executive order cannot halt all climate progress and emissions will still decline, thanks to market forces and policies that Trump cannot touch.
China has slammed President Trump’s efforts to rollback Obama-era environmental regulations, saying in a statement: “No matter how hard Beijing tries, it won’t be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take.” The Asian giant also urged the Western countries to pressure the US president on global warming. “Western opinion should continue to pressure the Trump administration on climate change. Washington’s political selfishness must be discouraged. China will remain the world’s biggest developing country for a long time. How can it be expected to sacrifice its own development space for those developed western powerhouses?” asked the Chinese state media.

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