President Donald Trump was joined by his E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, and coal industry workers on Tuesday as he signed his latest executive order that rolled back a previous U.S. climate change commitments.
President Trump made it clear that the U.S. had no intention of meeting the commitments Barack Obama had created to curb carbon dioxide pollution.
During a ceremony, Mr. Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the lengthy legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, a move that would close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, frozen construction of new plants and replaced them with vast new wind and solar farms.
Former President Obama pledged that the U.S. would cut emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. The process of carrying out the Clean Power Plan was essential to meeting that goal.
President Trump has yet to decide whether to withdraw from the Paris agreement formally. However, by rolling back the policies necessary to meet American commitments, the United States announced that it would not comply.
The worst-case scenario is that the Paris agreement will unravel, which would be a great tragedy.
Diplomats from major economies say they plan to carry out their climate change negotiations, contrary to what the U.S. does or does not do. The Trump administration’s moves will potentially embolden the opponents of climate action worldwide.
At the foundation of the Paris, accord was a breakthrough agreement between Mr. Obama and China’s president, Xi Jinping. At that point, Mr. Obama offered the Clean Power Plan as proof that the United States would meet its target.
The hard-fought victory was seen as the catalyst to bring other countries to the table to be part of the Paris Pact. If President Trump reneges on Obama’s commitment, such action could further hurt a relationship that has become more tenuous since his election.
Mr. Xi has said he is prepared to move forward with his Paris pledge. Speaking at the Davos economic summit meeting in January, Mr. Xi said, “All signatories should stick to their word as opposed to walking away. This is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”
Experts say that without action from the United States, China’s efforts to curb emissions could lose momentum. Still, it remains to be seen whether President Trump’s orders will entirely vanquish Mr. Obama’s climate change policy. Legal experts say it may take years for the E.P.A. administrator to carry out the task of withdrawing and revising the climate change regulations. Legal challenges will likely hit the process with every turn.
Source: The New York Times