At a time when governments around the world are working to cut pollution and take action on the climate crisis, United States (US) President Donald Trump seems to be pushing hard in the opposite direction.
Whether Mr. Trump believes in man-made global warming remains unclear. In the past, he has called it a “hoax” (a trick or joke based on false information). Though he says he has an “open mind” about it, Mr. Trump often seems to confuse climate change with clean air or clean water.
In 2015, the world’s countries signed the “Paris Agreement” to work together to slow global warming. The Paris Agreement set goals for countries to cut pollution and replace fossil fuels with energy that doesn’t pollute, such as solar, wind, and water power.
Last Wednesday, Mr. Trump said his government plans to officially pull out of the Paris Agreement. That’s something Mr. Trump first announced In 2017. He said the agreement was a “bad deal” for the US and would cause the US to lose jobs.
In reality, though the US is still part of the agreement, Mr. Trump admits that his government isn’t working toward the goals the US agreed to.
That seems clear from many of Mr. Trump’s other actions. He has encouraged the use of coal, and cut back on rules about pollution. He wants to open America’s largest national forest for logging. Mr. Trump has worked to relax rules requiring cars to pollute less and go farther on less fuel – even though car makers wanted to keep some of the rules.
As the US government has worked to help fossil fuel companies and polluters, many state and city governments have tried to take on the climate crisis themselves. Twenty-nine states and cities have sued the US government over its “Affordable Clean Energy” plan, which weakens current laws targeting polluters.
Mayors of 435 US cities have agreed to follow the Paris Agreement, even if Mr. Trump doesn’t. The mayors hope to join the United Nations meeting on the climate crisis in Santiago, Chile in December.
California and other states have been fighting the US government over the relaxed car rules. Mr. Trump has fought an especially bitter battle against California, which has very strict laws protecting the environment. Mr. Trump has worked to end or limit several of California’s environmental laws.
The rules of the Paris Agreement say the US can’t officially ask to leave until November 4. Then the US must wait a year before it can actually pull out. That means the earliest the US could leave the agreement is November 4, 2020 – one day after the next US election for president.
If Mr. Trump is re-elected, he will have completed a goal that’s important to him. But if the next president is someone who wants to stay in the Paris deal, there would be a delay before the US could rejoin.