Trump’s Executive Order on Federal Climate Policies
President Obama created the President’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) in June 2013, through which he directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote a 26-38 percent reduction of GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. Under this plan, the EPA is to promote reductions across the country in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the reduction in carbon emissions from the energy generation sector, the improvement of end-use efficiency of buildings and appliances, the reduction in pollution of hydrofluorocarbons and methane, and the promotion of carbon fixing processes through the protection of forests and other natural landscapes. This plan has been instrumental in the EPA’s creation of the Clean Power Plan, passed in 2015. It set a national target of a 32% reduction in emissions from the power generation sector from 2005 levels. The CAP has also encouraged states, cities, and counties across the nation to create their own climate action plans, and to commit to even greater GHG emissions reductions than the President’s CAP set forth. Finally, it has encouraged investment in and development of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind farms.
In March 2017, President Trump signed an executive order rescinding 23 federal climate policies, crippling the Clean Power Plan and destroying the Climate Action Plan, citing the energy industry’s need for unregulated growth. Through this executive order, the President is prioritizing the fossil fuel industry heavily over the renewable energy industry. President Trump has committed to “eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” according to the White House website. The Trump Administration believes that the CAP must be eliminated in order to “increase wages $30 billion over the next 7 years,” but fails to mention the cost to the environment of not reducing emissions.
If the US is to meet our commitments to the Paris Agreement, it is imperative that we uphold the Climate Action Plan. Without the plan or its support for the EPA’s emissions reductions regulations, GHG emissions are projected to only decrease 7% from 2005 levels to 2020, which marks an increase from current levels. While in the short run there might be an economic cost associated with the CAP, in the long run the environmental—and subsequent economic—costs of not maintaining and implementing the CAP will be much greater.
Currently, President Trump has not indicated his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement entirely, but under his new Executive Order the US will certainly not meet its nationally determined contributions to the agreement, and will likely not participate in further negotiations while President Trump remains in office.
Effects of Trump’s executive order on climate change: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/trump-moves-to-dismantle-climate-rules-21286
The President’s Climate Action Plan: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf
Timeline of Progress Made in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: http://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-timeline-progress-of-president-obama-climate-action-plan
White House Fact Sheet on President’s Climate Action Plan: http://pcastarchive.net/PCAST4/www.whitehouse.gov/president-obama-climate-action-plan.html
Summary of Resources on President’s Climate Action Plan (Center for Climate and Energy Solutions): https://www.c2es.org/federal/obama-climate-plan-resources