The “unthinkable” has happened. Donald Trump, the foul-mouthed, arrogant, racist, misogynist, and supposedly the “Least Qualified Presidential Candidate Ever” has beaten the odds, fair and square. This guy just pulled a Leicester City on everyone who is someone (almost) and the shock waves of his “surprising” victory are getting reverberated around the globe.
Let me be very clear, I am not against Trump, and never was. In fact, this victory doesn’t seem surprising to me at all, given the rise of a new wave of extreme nationalism all around the globe. For me, an ordinary middle class Indian, the US elections are at the most, the prime headlines of a day. Trump’s actions are going to decide the future of the United States of America, period. On an economic front, we Indians don’t need to worry too much.
But as a global citizen of this Earth, and an environmentalist, Trump’s election as the president of the United States of America; the world’s largest economy and the only true world superpower (as of now), the future looks extremely bleak.
Trump’s policy about climate change never gained enough traction to become a hot topic for news hour debates, but his stance has always been crystal clear on this subject. The next president has questioned the science of climate change, called global warming a “Chinese Hoax”, vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement on global warming and pledging to stimulate the production of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. And believe me when I say, he is going to deliver on his promises, on this front at least.
Under Obama Administration, the US had been trying to set an example to the world, by reducing their own CO2 emission, and coaxing other developing economies like China and India to adopt renewable energy resources. The Paris Deal, much criticized, was still a start. And the hope was that by cooperating and exerting diplomatic pressure on each other, all countries would steadily increase action over time. It was arguably the most plausible and promising plan yet proposed in the history of international climate talks.
But under Trump, things will change significantly. He has promised the American public to “Make America Great Again”. And to do so, they’ll need to gear up their manufacturing sectors, producing more products to create more jobs. Trump aims to rejuvenate the American economy, to make it more self-sufficient, to reduce the Chinese dependency that they have developed. And this requires increased consumption of natural resources and more burning of fossil fuels, resulting in enhanced carbon footprints. A shift in US policies on climate change can spell catastrophe to the extremely small, yet significant contribution, which we have committed to climate change policies.
Trump’s election is a disaster…. Trump will try and slam the brakes on climate action. Our work becomes much harder now, but it’s not impossible, and we refuse to give up. — ay Boeve, 350.org (Anti-fossil fuel campaign group)
I know I’m being too pessimistic. Great power brings even greater responsibilities. Maybe it was all just campaign fever. China has already shown itself capable of leading the climate policies of developing countries, by combining growth and renewable power. This policy has the potential of setting a benchmark for the future generations because it debunks the biggest argument corporations have against climate protection policies. The adoption of sustainable growth model protects and nurtures environment without compromising with growth and development. President-elect Donald Trump may decide to follow such a model, after all, it’s a win-win for everyone.
The policies of United States, the largest economy in the world, and the second largest polluter in the world will have a very significant impact on the worldwide climate change policies and their direction. The next 5 years are going to be extremely crucial for our planet and its fate.
One can imagine China and India, the first and third largest polluter respectively, deciding they don’t need to push nearly as hard on clean energy if the world’s richest and most powerful country doesn’t care. It is a terrifying possibility, one which throws all the hard work of previous years down the drain.
What Trump wants to do is extremely dangerous. Not to a community, a race or a country, but to the only planet known to support life. Let’s hope I am wrong.