Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this weekend, outlining his plans for the first 100 days in office. Apart from spending some of that time suing all those who’ve accused him of sexual assault, he also made a few declarations regarding the environment and the climate.
Before this point, Trump has mentioned little on either topic. He has previously vowed to veto the Paris agreement and ban “the Department of Environmental” – which doesn’t exist – should he ultimately occupy the Oval Office, but now he’s been a little more specific.
First, he will “cancel billions in payments to UN climate change programs,” instead using that money to “fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”
The billions he is referring to here is likely the $3 billion commitment the Obama administration made as part of the Paris agreement. Specifically, the payments will be used to help poorer nations lower their carbon footprint, an essential component of the pact.
The fact that Trump mentioned he would divert these funds to America’s “environmental infrastructure” is quite curious. This appears to reference the water supplies to various cities, although you cannot expect to have clean water if you are continually abusing the environment it comes from.
Trump essentially sees environmental protection as an inconvenience and a threat to American jobs. It goes without saying, of course, that without curbing climate change, the entire world will suffer, including the US.
Heat stress and unprecedentedly powerful natural disasters are already set to rob the US economy of $2 trillion by 2030, meaning that climate change is actually a rather effective jobs destroyer. Trump saying he’ll scrap climate change reform to protect American jobs is the equivalent of removing the smoke alarms from your house so you can sleep through a house fire.
Trump then adds that he will lift the restrictions on the use of “job-producing American energy reserves” including shale, oil, natural gas, and “clean coal”. Ignoring the fact that investing in renewables and nuclear energy both create jobs and reduces the nation’s carbon footprint, the most irritating part of this so-called plan is the last two words of it.
Clean coal is a highly contentious phrase that refers to the idea that pollution scrubbers could remove a lot of the carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants before it escapes into the atmosphere. At present, these scrubbers are only being trialed, their use is far from widespread, and they are proving to be incredibly ineffective.
For all intents and purposes, clean coal isn’t real, even if there is a page outlining what it could be idling around on a US government website. After all, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have a page about mermaids, but you don’t hear the fishing industry complain about these pesky half-human fish creatures stealing their catches.
It’s also worth pointing out that tens of thousands of people in the US die from air pollution generated by the use of fossils fuels every single year. There’s no point creating jobs if there’s no one left breathing to fill them.
Finally, Trump confirmed that he will reapprove the Keystone Pipeline, a nixed project designed to siphon oil from Canada to the US. Obama cancelled it after an exhaustive seven-year-long review, citing climate change as the deciding factor. Famously seeing climate change as a Chinese hoax, it’s no surprise that Trump wishes to resurrect it.
In this garbled mess of an announcement, Trump has quietly slipped in details about how he would “save” the national economy by screwing over the planet. America is inconveniently attached to the planet, so we doubt this plan will actually work.