This week saw the environmental situation in the United States thrown into turmoil. On Tuesday, President Trump ripped up Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which had placed regulations on business and industry carbon dioxide emissions in an attempt to tackle climate change. While Trump stopped short of completely withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, many are now on edge in case he does.
Trump claims that cutting back on the regulations will stimulate industry and boost job growth. But there are growing voices from within this very sector arguing that they want the regulations and limits. They have joined the NGOs that have been calling for regulations for years, and the growing number of countries around the world who are openly expressing their concern at the direction the US is now taking.
The tide, it seems, is turning.
Public opinion is shifting. andyparker72/Shutterstock
From retailers to oil and gas giants, businesses are coming under repeated pressure from the public to seriously address their stance on climate change. Plus, it makes obvious business sense to be looking towards energy sources that are renewable and will eventually cut costs. This week has seen companies such as Mars Inc and The Gap challenging Trump on the rollback of regulations.
“We’re disappointed the administration has decided to roll back climate regulations such as the clean power plan and others,” Edward Hoover, senior manager of Corporate Communications for Mars, told the Guardian. “Corporations can’t do it alone. Governments play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change on our economy.”
On the very day that Trump scrapped the CPP, the world’s largest beer producer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, who make the US' top-selling beer, Budweiser, made a "coincidentally" timed announcement that they plan on sourcing 100 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2025.
Even the world’s largest oil and gas producer, ExxonMobil, is voicing concerns about the direction the US administration is starting to take. Officials from the company wrote a letter to Trump urging him not to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, saying that it will help make energy markets “as free and competitive as possible.”
Leading the criticism against the recent actions of the White House outside the US is the European Union. With a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, the EU has the most ambitious climate targets, and despite slipping behind in recent years, may now be looking towards China to take up the baton and lead the climate fight on the world stage.
China, often cited by those against mitigating climate change as a reason to do nothing, has now weighed into the developing storm. Just days after the President signed the Executive Order to roll back Obama’s climate policies, the country once accused of creating the “hoax” of climate change by Trump himself castigated the move as being “selfish”.
Environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, have unsurprisingly been incredibly vocal about the latest developments, pulling no punches and calling Trump “a fossil fuel industry stooge with a presidential pen,” and his actions nothing short of “an all-out attack” on clean energy.
China is quickly emerging as a reluctant leader in the fight against climate change. humphery/Shutterstock
The director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defence Council has stated that rolling back on the climate plans is “not what most people elected Trump to do: people support climate action.” Not only that, but he stated that it won’t bring back the jobs Trump is promising. Already, more people are employed in the renewable sector than in the fossil fuel industry in the US.
The World Health Organization has projected that ignoring climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year from illness alone, as malnutrition, malaria, heat stress, and other infectious diseases will become more prevalent. Public health will suffer, and developing nations will be the ones hardest hit.
President Trump is now facing criticism from every angle on his stance on climate change, not only from environmental organizations, but also from the fossil fuel industry itself. If he decides to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, he is sure to have a hard fight on his hands.