Donald Trump’s Impact on Climate Change

Climate change has been a concern for countries across the globe. Average global temperatures have increased by nearly 1F over the course of a hundred years, with temperatures expected to increase by an additional 2 to 6F throughout the next century.

For the United States in particular, if proper precautions aren’t taken, net emissions could reach dangerous levels that future generations may not be able to reverse.

Last year, the United States was one of 195 nations who agreed to reduce emissions as a collective, and the administration promised to reduce U.S. carbon emissions to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025.

States like California have led the way. This year, under new legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the state started an aggressive campaign to scale back emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030, by increasing renewable energy use, putting more electric and hybrid cars on the road, improving energy efficiency, and curbing emissions from a number of high impact industries. Other states have contributed by promoting energy deregulation and by promoting a shared economy, where environmentally friendly businesses like Uber and Air B&B can flourish.

In addition to state action, the American pledge also relies on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which steers power plants towards using renewable energy. Combined with other state sponsored actions, the US would reportedly still be short of reaching goals set at the Paris Climate Agreement.

Under a Trump administration, the United States may go back on its promises altogether. While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said he would work to take the United States out of the Paris Agreement (a move criticized heavily by scientists), would repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, and unearthed tweets showed that the presidential contender was skeptical about climate change in general. Additionally, Trump has appointed Scott Pruitt, known ally to the fossil fuel industry, to run the EPA.

Still, many in the industry say they’re not too worried about the impacts a Trump presidency would have on clean energy initiatives.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, wind and solar prices have decreased by a significant margin, making them highly competitive with fossil fuel prices in many areas in the country. Between 2009 and 2015 alone, solar capacity grew by over 900 percent. Clean energy also has bipartisan support in congress, and though federal policies may change, it’s promising that state-by-state initiatives will still continue.

Most of the initiatives towards clean energy have taken place on the state level, California’s changes being the most prominent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 29 states have plans to reduce their carbon emissions in some capacity in years to come.

Furthermore, lobbyists for U.S. wind and solar companies made a considerable effort to reach across partisan divides, hoping to win over conservatives who may be skeptical of climate change, but are interested in creating new, and better paying blue collar jobs. Creating more strongholds in red states has been critical in garnering support from republican congress members.

Additionally, Trump already has a track record of backing down on campaign promises.

Mr. Trump, a lot of times, he will say stuff, and once he does he will kind of backtrack, Tea Party solar energy advocate Debbie Dooley tells reporter Erica Gies. I fully believe that’s what’s happened with solar.

Others agree, stating that while renewable energy may slow under a Trump administration, it will not be eradicated fully.

We’re going to those technologies, and we’ll either get to them really quickly…or we will go to it as the market dictates without assistance, Amy Myers of UC Davis Jaffe tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro. But we are definitely going to it.

While it’s uncertain exactly which stances Donald Trump will take when it comes to clean energy, experts agree that we can remain optimistic about the future of clean energy and reducing United States’ environmental impact.

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