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EarthTalk - What would a second Trump term mean for efforts to stave off climate change?

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Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk:

What would a second Trump term in the White House mean for efforts to stave off cataclysmic climate change?

George B., Saginaw, MI

For years former President Trump has repeatedly made false claims that climate change is a hoax. His efforts to negate progressive climate change policies were evident in his first term, when he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, rolled back environmental regulation, and relaxed regulations on oil and gas drilling. According to Trump’s allies and advisors, a second term for Trump would mean even more extreme environmental policies. While efforts to fight climate change are stronger now than when Trump first attacked them, he can still do substantial damage.

Trump has said that should he become president again, boosting fossil fuels would be one of his top priorities. Trump’s allies have said that Trump plans to drive forward fossil fuel production, which would overturn rules made to curb planet-heating emissions. The Trump campaign has also promised to once again pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, an act that Biden had reversed earlier in his presidency. Reversing executive orders is surprisingly easy for a newly instated president. On Biden’s first day of his presidency, he canceled 11 of Trump’s climate-related orders. Trump will certainly move to do the same and undo Biden’s climate-related executive orders.

Hand drawing a line around the words "Climate Change" with surrounding words and images showing impacts

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In 2023, Kevin Robert, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, released a series of policy initiatives called Project 2025 that Trump could take if he wins the presidency again, including reversing climate actions taken by the Biden administration. The project calls for the president to use an executive order to “reshape the U.S. Global Change Research Program and related climate change research programs.” The Global Change Research Program was established by Congress in 1990 to coordinate federal research and spending to better understand climate change. The Trump administration already moved to tamper with the Research Program during his first term, and a second term will surely mean further manipulation.

The damage that Trump could do to climate change policy would set the U.S. back years. He believes that climate change should not be a priority and isn’t something we should be worried about. He wants to boost the U.S. economy by boosting fossil fuels, when we should be looking for other, clean alternatives.

If Trump is awarded a second term his climate-related policies could add an additional four billion tons of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere by 2030, compared to the Biden administration’s existing plans. We would also likely miss our global climate pledge under the Paris agreement by a wide margin. The U.S. should be a leader in climate change policy and we are taking steps toward that goal, but if Trump is elected to a second term, all that work could be flushed down the drain.


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