The much anticipated executive order to undo President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy was signed today by President Donald Trump. He celebrated the move as a way to promote energy independence and restore thousands of lost coal industry jobs, reported the NY Times.
The document titled “Energy Independence” was signed at the Environmental Protection Agency and marks a clear difference between how President Trump and former President Obama view the role of their country in the battle against climate change.
It alters US approach to rising seas levels and temperatures and directs the agency to start all legal processes and withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Obama’s policies against global warming.
During the signing Trump said the order will “eliminate federal overreach” and start a new era of production and job creation. “My action today is latest in steps to grow American jobs.”
Nonetheless, the executive order doesn’t address the US participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which committed the country to take steps in reducing climate-altering pollution. But if his plans are enacted, experts noted, the US won’t meet its commitments.
Meanwhile, conservation organizations reacted.
The Nature Conservancy released a statement following the signing. “The Nature Conservancy strongly supports actions to address climate change and that affirm the basic safeguards that protect our air, land and water from pollution. The executive order signed today on climate solutions and environmental protections takes us in the wrong direction.”
Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek added, “we also support the efforts of the many state governments that are encouraging the already strong demand for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Because of these efforts, many states are making significant progress towards reducing carbon pollution, but even greater efforts are needed and would benefit from national leadership.”
“The very real losses to our economy and our community from ignoring climate impacts are considerable, but we’re also missing a substantial opportunity. These solutions bring with them more jobs, more innovation, more choices for consumers, cleaner air and water, and better health. These are benefits the American people want for themselves and for their families,” he concluded.
Also, "these actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American," said Tom Steyer, the president of NexGen Climate, in a statement.
"Trump is deliberately destroying programs that create jobs and safeguards that protect our air and water, all for the sake of allowing corporate polluters to profit at our expense," he added.
Also, Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said, “This executive order gives us further proof that Trump isn’t a leader, he’s just a fossil fuel industry stooge with a presidential pen.”
“Thankfully, for all his bluster, the best Trump can do is delay America’s inevitable transition to clean energy, but he can’t stop it. The problem, of course, is how much devastation his administration will inflict on the climate, vulnerable communities, and the environment in the meantime. With this executive order, the Trump administration is simply putting America further behind in the global race towards a renewable future,” she added.
More so the European Union led criticism of Trump’s actions. The EU’s climate action commissioner, Miguel Árias Cañete, told The Guardian the EU “regrets the US is rolling back the main pillar of its climate policy, the Clean Power Plan. Now, it remains to be seen by which other means the United States intends to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.”
“The continued leadership of the EU, China and many other major economies is now more important than ever. When it comes to climate and the global clean energy transition, there cannot be vacuums, there can only be drivers, and we are committed to driving this agenda forward,” he added.
As other executive orders, like the Muslim ban, Trump’s attempt will be challenged in court, at least this is what people like Leonard believe.
“Given the administration’s recent track record, that gives us hope that this roll-back of environmental policies won’t stand and justice will ensure these laws continue to protect the environment and the vulnerable communities most affected by climate change.”