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Last year, the United States was the unlucky victim of nature’s will. After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas late August, Hurricane Irma stormed into Florida. These devastating natural disasters will happen more often if nothing is done to sustain our planet’s environment. This is exactly what has been written in Donald Trump’s environmental policies: nothing.
Ever since President Trump left the Paris Climate Accord in June 2017, the place of the environment and sustainability in the United States has been quite vague. While this political choice was one of Trump’s campaign promises, many members of his administration, including his own daughter Ivanka, did not hesitate to demonstrate their discontent at this decision. Indeed Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, left the President’s economic advisory council.
The Paris Climate Agreement aims to strengthen the effort to combat climate change and to assist developing countries in doing so. The main goal is to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. This sounded like a bad idea to President Trump, who believes US coal industry would suffer from it and that it will be too costly for his country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
However, Trump was missing some information before making this statement. Indeed, in 2015 investments for renewable energy exceeded those for fossil fuels for the time. His statement on the coal industries and unemployment did not take into account the normal job rate loss and creation, as well as jobs shifting between those sectors.While President Trump’s statements have been proven wrong before, his party has a long history of disregarding or acting against environmental concerns. Large numbers of Republican members dismiss the very existence of climate change. The Republican party by and large does consider environmental conservation to be a conservative value as long as it does not interfere with economic prosperity. However, whilst they claim they want to develop green jobs in America, they still seek to continue developing lucrative domestic oil resources. Republicans at least claim to support those clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, but not if it thwarts the economy.
Most Republicans support the exploitation of oil sources in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and the continuation of the Keystone Pipeline Project, an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States, for which Donald Trump took action to permit its completion in January. Also, private property, one of the crucial value of Republicans, is the main cause of the environmental degradation under a republican government.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration made significant progress in terms of environmental sustainability policy. While solar energy and electricity produced by wind power increased substantially under the previous President, under Obama’s directive, the Environmental Protection Agency mandated to curb carbon dioxide emissions in order to reduce the emissions by 30% by 2030. Obama’s party, the Democrats, have made it a priority to protect the environment by reducing the effects of climate change, protecting natural resources and their ecosystems by investing in clean energy and fighting to protect the Paris Agreement. However, they have often disagreed on the methodology, making progress on environmental law difficult.
The Republicans have been reluctant to invest in clean energy and green jobs as they were afraid to harm the US economy. Their rivals, the Democrats, are convinced that a cleaner and more sustainable environment goes hand-in-hand with a stronger economy and thus want the economy to shift away from oil. They have pledged that America should run entirely on clean energy by 2050. To do so, they want half the electricity generated from renewable sources within ten years, to fit half a billion solar panels, and to boost energy efficiency in public places such as school and hospitals. Therefore, both American political parties agree they should tackle environmental issues even if they do not agree on the way to do it.
Unfortunately, political play and power could well get in the way of any improvement that could be achieved in this area. Every single step towards sustainability by one administration will automatically be replaced after a change in the political party in power at one of the main political institutions. Playing and repeating ancient political rules, they cannot publicly agree with each other if they want to remain in their party. One of the most impressive examples of that is that Donald Trump used to be a Democrat and even supported Hillary Clinton when she faced Obama in the Democrats primary election in 2008. Yet, less than ten years later, Trump slanders her in a debate. Sustainability and people’s health should not become a political play and be considered as a serious matter.
The main hope for the sustainability of our planet is that President Trump realises rejoining the Paris Accord, which is not totally impossible, and putting environmental issues of our planet first, would go a long way to making America great again.