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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Trump’s potential return and its dangerous impact on the environment – ​​El Financiero

The author is an expert in sustainability and corporate social responsibility*.

In 2016, real estate developer Donald Trump won the presidential election in the United States. His victory came after a campaign that lasted several months and focused little on environmental issues, as he only denounced the Obama administration’s climate policies and at the same time defended the American fossil fuel industry. The 2024 elections in the United States – responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the second largest emitter after China – could have a significant impact on the government’s environmental approach.

The past Trump administration brought a wave of changes to U.S. climate regulations, reversing Obama-era policies aimed at slowing the effects of climate change and limiting pollution. One of his first actions was to stop considering climate change as a threat to national security; very different vision than the one Obama had while he was in power, since he described climate change as an urgent and growing problem for national security. Considering climate change as a threat to national security does not depend on political overtones, since it is based on scientific facts and also on what we have experienced in recent years, extreme weather phenomena such as droughts, fires, heat waves. and torrential rains, which could become increasingly frequent and intense due to climate change, putting both infrastructure and systems, as well as society in general, at risk.

During his administration, President Trump’s budget made massive cuts to scientific research and environmental programs that protect air and water, slowing progress in the fight against climate change. Furthermore, in 2017, the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement (2013), separating itself from a group of 194 countries that have joined a historic pact to avoid catastrophic climate change with the goal of keeping the planet’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6°F) and ideally below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, his administration modified and eased numerous environmental regulations, including restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants and the release of methane (a potent greenhouse gas from oil and gas wells).

On the other hand, Biden is using all the skills of the executive department to reduce climate pollution, from regulating power plants to strengthening efficiency requirements for products like cars and refrigerators. His government administration has focused on boosting climate-focused diplomacy. For example, the participation that John Kerry – the first presidential envoy for climate change – had in innovative agreements with China (the main emitter of greenhouse gases in the world) to reduce emissions. Biden has made climate action a pillar of his presidency, passing in 2022 the most significant climate change legislation in US history, which includes billions in tax credits aimed at incentivizing clean energy.

The future of the Earth is at stake. It is time to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fast enough to prevent a climate catastrophe. If Donald Trump wins the presidency, during the second half of this decade there will be a decline in American prioritization of climate change, condemning the world to not reach its catastrophic limits. Last year saw the highest temperature ever recorded and humanity was hit by devastating extreme weather events linked to climate change, such as fatal heat waves, droughts and flash floods caused by an increasingly unstable water cycle. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the global average temperature has increased by 1.2°C (2.2°F) each year. According to experts, this amount is dangerously close to 1.5°C, which could cause irreversible damage.

According to recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reducing global GHG emissions by 43% in 2030, 60% in 2035 and net zero in 2050 would help keep us below 1.5°C. However, emissions have continued to increase in recent years, although at a slower rate. To meet the IPCC recommendations, it will be necessary to dramatically minimize emissions from the United States and other large economies, as well as provide increased subsidies and loans for clean energy deployment in prosperous and developing countries. A second Trump term could be a challenge for the climate. If Trump takes office in 2025, the United States could abandon environmental initiatives and best practices, which would not only increase its domestic emissions but also reduce the incentive for China, India and other large GHG-emitting countries to collaborate in this collective fight.

As an implication for Mexico – which is also facing its presidential elections – it is important to mention that the change to a new government will require establishing a new policy with the United States, a more pragmatic one, but under the premise of a government that will try again to change the rules. . In this scenario, it will certainly be necessary to create a new relationship between the opposition and the government, one of unity on international issues, and therefore one of dialogue and conciliation on many other issues, always seeking sustainable development for the region.

*Also ands Graduate and Master in Economic Development from the Autonomous University of the State of Puebla (UPAEP), Master in Innovation and Competitiveness from Deusto Business School, Master in Economics from the Autonomous University of Madrid, and Candidate for a Doctor in Economics from the Complutense University of Madrid. Pablo has worked as a researcher on energy and sustainability issues for the European Center for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) at King’s College London. In addition to having been a senior consultant in recognized firms specialized in Consulting; He has held roles as a public official managing sustainability projects. And, he has shared his knowledge as a university professor at the Universidad Anáhuac Norte, and as Manager and Director of ESG and Sustainability in renowned companies in Mexico. He is currently the National Manager of Sustainability and Climate Change at the Tecnológico de Monterrey.

X: @pablonecoechea

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